(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The life of Saint Margaret of Cortona"

m 






THE LIFE 



or 



SAIXT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 

BT TUB j9 W 

CANON ANTHONY FliANCIS GIOVAGXOLL 



niTLADni.PIIIA: 

PETER F. CUNXINtJUAM A SON, 

817 A urn STUKKT. 

1SS8. 



\TITII THR APPFIODATION OF TUB 

ET. REV. JOHN N. NEUMANN, 1) D. t 

BISHOP OK rillLAUKLl HIA. 

COLL. CHRlSTl REGIS S.J. 

BIB. MAJOR 

TORONTO 



Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the yesjr 1868. by 

PETEIi F. CUNNINGHAM; 

ttt til* Clerk s Office of the District Court for the Eastern District vf 
PennsrlYania. 



BTEKEVl I I-KD BY 

JKSPEU IIAKDINQ A SON, 

KQUIXXR BUILDINO, SOUTH THIRD STRUT, PQILlDnrKIA. 



THIS LIFE OF 

OB ILLUSTRIOUS PATRONESS OF THB 

SERAPHIC ORDER 

U RESPECTFULLY DEDICATBD 

TO THB 

fEBY KEY PAMFILO DA 

PROVINCIAL OF THE RECOLLECTS 

<V THK ORDER OF SAINT FRANCIS 

IB THB UNITED STATES. 



PREFACE. 



THE life of Saint Margaret, that heroic model 
of penance, which is here presented to the Eng 
lish reader, received a Roman approbation in 
1751, having been carefully examined by com 
mand of the Master of the Sacred Palace. The 
Carmelite Father Aloysius Mary of Jesus thus 
speaks: u ln obedience to the commands of the 
Most Rev. Father Augustine Orsi, Master of the 
Sacred Apostolic Palace, I have read with atten 
tion and pleasure the book entitled, Life of Saint 
Margaret of Cortona, by Canon Anthony Francis 
Giovagnoli, and found it worthy of being re 
printed here at Rome, and most seasonable, to 
sinners, as a strong inducement to be converted 
and rise to a better life, to the just, as a salutary 
instruction, teaching them at what pace they 
should press on and advance in that more excel 
lent way whereof the Apostle speaks in his first 
epistle to the Corinthians." 

In order to render it more pleasing to the pious 
reader, we have added the introduction of a French 
life by the Abb6 Bergier. 

1* K 



INTRODUCTION. 



TIIK illustrious penitent whose history \ve un 
dertake, lias been till now almost unknown am jng 
us. The moment has, we think, come to draw 
her from this unjust oblivion, and to place in 
broad day before the eyes of all, the wonders of 
her charity and repentance. Never, we believe, 
have minds and hearts been more favorably dis 
posed to understand and relish such examples, 
and to reap the fruits of grace and salvation which 
they contain. In our day more than in any 
other period, and among ourselves more than 
amonur all others, an immense need of interior 

O 

restoration, public reparation, expiation of every 
kind, pressesand agitates Christian souls. There 
is, in fact, so much to expiate, so much to restore 
in our age, when scandals abound, when blas 
phemy stalks proudly, when forgetful ness of God 
and contempt for his holy name seem to pass all 
limits. Fervent souls see it, feel it, are afflicted, 
and seek to remedy it. Hence the extraordinary 
and unheard of efforts made to satisfy divine jus 
tice; hei 3e under a thousand names, and a thou- 

(7) 



8 INTRODUCTION. 

sand different forms, those salutary organizations 
instituted in various countries for reparation for 
blasphemy, for the sanctification of Sunday, 
which the faithful so eagerly and so spontaneously 
welcome, and which the Church blesses with so 
much love and hope. 

This need of satisfaction and restoration is 
general among us. Pure virginal souls are no 
longer satisfied to keep aloof from the world s 
corruption, they also wish to pray, mourn, im 
molate themselves for others, make reparation to 
the Almighty, and present themselves before his 
mercy as victims of expiation. Those whom sin 
has uncrowned and blighted, but who are aspiring 
to return to God, aspire also to restore themselves 
completely in his eyes, to recover the virginal 
splendor of their pristine purity. But, alas ! 
among these many hesitate, despair, halt in the 
way of expiation. If; at least, they could hope 
to reach the point from which they had fallen, 
re-enter that group of virgins who follow the 
Lamb whithersoever he goeth, and from which 
they have been banished : if they could restore 
to their crown that beautiful flower of virginity 
which they have allowed to wither, sacrifice 
would cost less ! But is complete reparation 
possible here? Can what no longer exists re 
vive? This cruel doubt fills them with interior 



INTRODUCTION . tf 

desolation and bitterness, and crushes their 
strength. To these faint-hearted and unhappy 
souls we oiler a consolation, a hope: The Life of 
Saint Mdnjarct of Corlona. To them we say: 
Take and read ; here i.s a penitent whose whole 
life is a solemn protestation against the doubt 
which troubles and arrests you, a proof that 
virginity may be restored before God, that it is 
susceptible of an unspeakable reparation. 

On such a matter we may be permitted to give 
the opinion of a pious and learned bishop, Mon- 
seignenr Luquet, Bishop of Ilesebon. His words, 
moreovei, better than aught we can say, will 
show our readers the sublime and privileged 
mission which Divine Providence seems to assign 
among us to the illustrious penitent whose life 
now engages our consideration. The learned 
bishop was in the neighborhood of Home, when 
to some questions on the works of reparation 
going on in France, and which inspire the faithful 
with so much joy and confidence, he replied in 
these terms : "I have a special motive in ad 
dressing you to day. I feel impelled to impart 
to you ; the movement of special devotion which 
leads some souls to invoke a Saint who may well 
be classed among thechief patrons of reparation : 
I mean the dear penitent, Saint Margaret of Cor- 
tonu. She Is almost unknown in France, I be- 



INTRODUCTION. 

lieve. this is, methinks, a motive the in >re to 
impart to you what I have to say. As you know, 
she began her youth by profligacy ; the sad death 
of him who had turned her from God brought 
her back, and she afterwards, aided by grace, 
undertook a penitent life, in which love was her 
sole and overflowing joy. Our Lord deigned to 
favor her with his private converse, and at first 
gave her no other name but poverella (poor thing). 
Happy at first, she at last saddened to receive no 
other name from her Beloved, and she humbly 
complained. She was long kept in this lot, 
already most sweet and consoling. At last, she 
heard herself called daughter, and her joy was 
great. Not long after Our Lord called her by a 
still dearer title : spouse. Her longings were now 
crowned, there was naught more to desire ; but 
Our Lord, who is infinite, wished iu console her 
beyond all hopes, and he, who is truth itself, 
called Margaret, the poor companion of his vir 
gins, consequently his virgin. She couH not 
believe it, she was alarmed, thinking doubtless 
that the devil wished to deceive her. He, who is 
the resurrection and the life, re-assured and con 
firmed her, promising to place her in his king 
dom in the rank of virgins, because all is possible 
to love. Since the stigrnas of Saint Francis, this 
exterior gift, before unknown in the Church, has 



INTRODUCTION. 1 1 

been several times renewed. Nor, may we hope, 
will the grace of Saint Margaret be limited to 
her. It is one of the treasures of the Church 
since the Saint received it, and can not souls draw 
efficaciously by faith from that treasury ? Can 
we not in this regard hope without limit, hope 
everything at this moment when the Immaculate 
Conception of Mary seems about to be given as 
a dogma of faith ? This mystery of our Mother 
is the mystery of innocence. She who intro 
duced true virginity into the world, first conscious 
how agreeable it is to God, pours forth, we cannot 
doubt it, torrents of innocence for the truly faith 
ful. Now what is impossible to man is possible 
to God. This dear Saint Margaret has already 
inspired great hopes, true conversions ; we know 
many souls who aspire to glorify the Lamb in 
that legion of resuscitated virgins, in order not 
to leave void the gift of God. They hope through 
Mary, immaculate in her conception, that this 
hope will not confound them. I am interiorly 
moved to think as they do. Pray then, pray for 
these poor souls, so that they may always hope 
against all hope. If you know any others whom 
the Iloly Ghost invites to hope, by putting them 
selves in the rank of poor sinners, the outcasts 
of the world, tell them to come: the souls of 
whom I speak ask nothing for themselves, that 



l f l INTRODUCTION. 

they do not equally solicit for the others. This 
is what, in this great triumph of Mary, my heart 
has longed to confide to yours, that in its due 
time, if this impulse comes from the Holy Ghost, 
as I think it does, you may impart it to others." 
These consoling ideas, we will add, are not 
new in the Church. In the lives of the Fathers 
of the Desert we find an incident cited by Ro 
driguez, which wonderfully corroborates the 
same thought. It is the history of Saint Thais. 
Thais embraced a life of great austerity : at the 
end of three years the holy anchorite who had 
recalled her to God, wished to know whether her 
penance had been sufficient; " he consulted Saint 
Anthony whether God had forgiven her her sins; 
the Saint called his monks and bade them all 
watch and pray the coming night, each by him 
self, in order to obtain of God some declaration 
of what Paphnutius had come to seek. While 
all then were in prayer, Paul, who was the great 
est, of the disciples of Saint Anthony, saw in 
heaven a bed adorned with precious curtains and 
ornaments, guarded by four virgins. When 
Paul saw so rich a thing, he thought and said 
within himself, This is a reward and a favor laid 
up for no other than our father Saint Anthony : 
but while thus in thought a voice came down tc 
him from heaven, saying: This bed is not for 



.NTRODUCTTON 18 

thy father Anthony, but for T hnis Lie sinner. 
And a fortnight after God was pU.ised to call her 
to enjoy that glory and heavenly bridal."* Thus 
like Margaret of G-rtona, the sinful Thais had, 
by penanee, completely restored herself in the 
eyes of her heavenly Bridegroom ; like Margaret, 
heaven hail declared her worthy to be called 
Virgin of the Lamb, worthy of the unspeakable 
honor laid up for virginity alone ; like Margaret 
in fine, Thais was a resuscitated vir jhi. 

A pious and eloquent Doctor, Saint Peter 
Chrysologus, makes the same observation with 
regard to Magdalen, the first and most celebrated 
penitent in the Church. "Do yon sec this 
woman ? When she came to the leet of Jesus, she 
was a sinner, impure, accursed of God and man ; 
when she departed, she was pure, holy, radiant 
with the glory of virgins. Her crimes and her 
scandals had made her a dishonored, despicable 
creature: her lively repentance and her love 
wrought such a change in her, that she merited 
lo bear the very name of the purest of virgins, 
that of Mary. Venit mulier, se<l reil/it Mtir!(i. r -\ 

Saint Paul himself had no other desire, no 
other hope for his beloved Christians of Corinth. 



Rodriguez, Christian Tci-fecti )ii, Part i. Treat, v. ch. li). 
f Serin. 77 
2 



14 INTRODUCTION. 

Some of them haa fallen into monstrous crimes, 
into the sins which he himself forbids us to 
name. The holy Apostle is saddened and alarmed 
when he thinks that several perhaps have not 
done penance. As to those who fulfilled the 
penance he imposed, he rejoices and consoles 
them, and to convince them that they had re 
covered a perfect innocence: "I have espoused 
you to one husband, that I may present you as a 
chaste virgin to Christ." Watch then, he adds, 
" for I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by 
his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted 
and fall from the simplicity that is in Christ."* 
" Where sin has abounded, doth grace super- 
abound," says the same Apostle. What right 
then has man s distrust to set restrictions and 
limits to the almighty efficacy of that divine 
grace, and the infinite, superabundant merits of 
the redeeming blood ? What sin could corrupt 
and wither in a virgin soul, cannot grace from 
above, to crown the heroic love of the repentant 
soul, invest with new life and splendor? Yes, as 
it falls on an impure and sinful, but now penitent 
and sufficiently disposed soul, the thrice pure 
blood of the Lamb may purify it, efface the 
slightest stains, and restore to its primitive 

* 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. 



INTRODUCTION. . 1> 

rights all the virginal freshness of its innocence, 
and all the effulgence of its first purity. From 
this sacred laver, as from a new baptism, it will 
come forth all beautiful, pure, regenerated, trans 
formed, radiant with new youth and life. What 
was lost has been found again, what was dead 
lives again. It is a "resuscitated virgin." 

But how can this be done ? Job of old ad 
dressed the Lord a similar question. " Who can 
make pure what is conceived in an impure 
source ?" " Thou alone, my God," he adds. 
God can, God does daily by the grace of baptism. 
And now, how can he after baptism render vir 
ginal, the soul which has ceased to be so? 
"Thou alone canst do it," we will repeat with 
the holy patriarch. It is the secret of an heroic 
penance and of a sublime love, it is the myste 
rious fruit of the grace and blood of the spotless 
Lamb! 

A man of learning and piety, hearing these 
thoughts of reparation and spiritual resurrection 
proposed, cried out in his desire to see them 
diffused still more amongst the faithful : "This 
can bear torrents of souls to heaven." May the 
perusal of the book, which we offer the public^ 
contribute in some measure to realize this desire 
of a fervent soul ! May our good and dear Saint 
Margaret of Cortona, become the protectress and 



16 . INTRODUCTION. 

guardian of the expiatory works, cal.ed up in 
our day to divert so many scourges, repair so 
many ruins! Following her example, and under 
her auspices, may the number of resuscitated vir 
gins increase and multiply among us. to increase 
in heaven the radiant band that the Lamb gath 
ers around him, amid the angels! This is our 
most ardent desire, our only ambition. 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK I. 

FAQB 

CHAPTER I. Margaret s birth and earty years, 

II. Her conversion, . . 23 

III. Her return home, .... 28 

IV. Her arrival at Cortona, ... 31 

V. Her progress in spirit, ... 34 
VI. Her public penance, and receiving of the 

habit as a Tertiary, . 39 

VII. Her first converse with our Lord, . 44 

VIII. New favors from Jesus Christ, . 49 

IX. Her temptations by the devil, . . 55 

X. Her sufferings from men, . * 60 

XI. Her sufferings from God, ... 74 

XII. Her apostolic life, .... 79 

XIII. Remarkable instances of success, 84 

BOOK II. 

CHAPTER I. Her humility, . ..." 97 

II. Her austerities, .... 105 

III. Her charity to her neighbor, . .Ill 

IV. Her love for Jesus Christ, . . 118 
V. Her devotion to the Passion of Christ, 125 

VI. Her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament 134 
2- (17) 



18 CONTENTS. 

MM 
CHAP, VII. Her devotion to Mary, . . .142 

VIII. Her devotion to tlie Angels, . . 147 

IX. Her devotion to the Saints, . . 155 

X. Her faith and charity, . . . 163 

XI. Her !o\vi of (Jod 171 

XII Her ecstasies and visions, . . 183 

XII I. Her prophecies, . . . 190 

BOOK III. 

MAUOAUET S DEATH AND MIRACLES. 

CD A PTKR I. Her last illness,. . . . .201 
II. Her last temptations, . . . 206 
HI. Her death and burial, . . . 222 
IV. The veneration for her body, and its in 
corrupt state, .... 223 

BOOK III CONTINUED. 

MIRACLES WROUGHT BY SAINT MARGARET. 

CUAFTKR V. Her miracles at Cortona, . . 235 
VI. Her miracles in other placet, . . 248 
VII. More recent miracles, . . . 2G3 
VIII. Chronological summary of the devotion 

paid to Margaret, . . . 273 
IX. The Sodality of Saint Margaret at Cor 
tona 283 



LIFE OF ST MARGARET OF COHTONA. 



BOOK I. 

CHAPTER I. 
MARGARET S BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. 

THE devout reader may appreciate the special 
prerogatives and eminent merits of the illustrious 
heroine of Cortona, and most exemplary peni 
tent of the whole Church, ST. MARGARET, from 
this undoubted testimony given by the very lips 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the loving collo 
quies, familiarly and all bat habitually held du 
ring the many years of her most penitent life. 
That Divine and loving Lord soon discarded tho 
word, "My poor one," with which he first ad 
dressed her, and not satisfied with that of daugh 
ter, soon after added, styled her repeatedly, u Afy 
soul, my elect spous", fore-chosen of the Father, Son 
and Hnlij Ghost. Precious throne, awl mo<t beau 
teous Tempi: (f the whole Trinity; and at last: 
1 Aly mother, so dear to me, that there shall he no 
creature ur.to whom I will not show special mercy, 
ifllou in vceilestfo, him?" Titles that seemed 

{ 13) 



20 THK LIFE OF 

to the humble Saint too unsuited to one whoso 
life had been so guilty, but the benignant Lord 
confirmed it with these no less exalted expres 
sions: i; I have made thee a marvellous light, to 
enlighten those that sit in the shadows of sin. 
I have made thee a stupendous heat, fit to inflame 
the most frozen hearts. Thou shalt be a light to 
thy own Brethren. I have set thee in the desert 
of the world, like a voice resounding from a lofty 
spot, like a sounding trumpet calling all to my 
love : I have ordained thee the Mother and the 
mirror of sinners, that leaving vice they may ex 
pect pardon, thou shalt be my fisher of most 
stubborn souls: thou shalt be the gate of their 
eternal salvation." 

Such may she be to me, and to all who read 
this present life, carefully compiled from the full 
and authentic accounts, passing lightly over such 
incidents as furnished little or no matter for real 
compunction, which alone I seek to produce in 
my readers. 

Laviano, a little hamlet, (a feud of the Peru- 
gine family Oddi,) not far distant from Cortona, 
was the birth place of Margaret. Iler parents 
were poor, but respected peasants. The month 
and day of her birth are matters of doubt, but it 
was certainly in the year 1247, when not with 
out a special design of Providence, she was re- 



SAINT MARGARET OF COKTONA. 21 

generated in the sacred Font, not in her own, 
but in a neighbouring hamlet, Pux/uolo, in the 
church of the Apostle St. Peter, a presage of 
heaven, that the ehild was one day to .imitate 
the fervor of that first model of Christian peni 
tence. 

Margaret was of a lively disposition, and of 
pleasing and handsome address : her good mother, 
who loved her tenderly, accordingly educated 
her carefully. Of this two-fold advantage of a 
mother s caresses, and a mother s vigilance, Mar 
garet was deprived at the very moment when 
she was best able to appreciate them ; for when 
the little girl was only about seven years old, her 
beloved mother died. Her father ere long mar 
ried again, a most unfortunate step for Margaret,. 
Accustomed to her mother s affectionate ways, 
she could not adapt herself to her stepmother s 
harshness; the latter accordingly could by no 
effort make her obedient to her commands, or 
yielding to her suggestions, still less respectful 
to her correction. Hence the stepmother deep 
ened in her dislike of her stepdaughter, and the 
latter every day spurned more scornfully her 
stepmother s suggestions: so that, as every hour 
seemed an age to get entirely out of her hands, 
she thought of nothing but getting married. But 
as her lather was not rich, it was not his interest 



22 



THE LIFE OF 



to have her marry so soon ; for in the meantime 
he profited by the domestic labours of his daugh 
ter, and he would be hampered by the payment 
of the necessary dowry at the marriage. Never 
theless, the incautious parent allowed her to 
dress in a style of vanity, that ill suited their 
condition as poor peasants, and to flirt freely 
with all the gallants who approached her. Her 
light manners, her gay dress, her easy and win 
ning ways, drew many around her. Beyond all 
the other gallants, easily prevailed the unchecked 
offers of a young and wealthy noble of Monte 
Pulciano, whence he often came to amuse him 
self in a villa near Laviano. We cannot accu 
rately decide from the scanty memoirs of the 
time, whether he asked her of her parents as a 
servant, or carried her off without their knowl 
edge; but it is certain that Margaret went to re- 
aide in the gentleman s house at Monte Pulciano, 
where she lived so sumptuously, and dressed so 
extravagantly, that every one could see that she 
was anything but a servant in his house. Their 
dissolute connection became more evident by 
Margaret s evident pregnancy, and erelong she 
gave birth to a handsome boy : who, unhappy in 
his shameful origin, through the incontinency 
of his illegitimate parents, became fortunate in 
the glorious end which his mother s repentant 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 2f> 

and contrite tears procured for him in the order 
of St. Francis. 

And to this repentance the Almighty in his 
goodness disposed her, by keeping alive in her 
heart a most tender compassion for the poor, and 
by exciting in her a devout relish for retired 
and solitary spots, where she was wont to bewail 
her faults; of which she often felt such acute fear, 
that she would burst forth into bitter lamenta 
tions, and declare herself unworthy of the ordi 
nary salutations made by those who knew her, 
when they met; so even then she frequently 
presaged her conversion, for she was often, in 
reply to those who chid her for her unbridled 
vanity and scandalous life, heard to exclaim: 
"You will see, yes, you will see a time, when I 
shall be a Saint: and you shall see pilgrims with 
their staffs come to visit my tomb. 



CHAPTER II. 

HER CONVERSION. 



GOD in his mercy hastened the coming of that 
happy time, by a severe blow of his terrible justice, 
interested in bringing salvation to Margaret, and 



24 THE LIFE OF 

consequently in pnttingan end to tli fit career ofsin- 
ful love, in which she had spent almost nine years, 
down to the age of twenty seven. Her wretched 
paramour was suddenly cut off. Having gone 
out one dav alone to the country, to investigate 

* o 

the boundary of one ofhis demesnes, in the ter 
ritory of Pctrogniano, a feud of the Passerini, 
noble knights of Cortona, he was furiously as 
sailed by some enemies, who with clubs and 
swords, cruelly murdered him, and conscious of 
their crime, dragged the body under some oak 
trees, where they rudely buried it under stones 
and brush. Evening carne on, and as the gen 
tleman did not appear, Margaret s heart was 
greatly agitated. Her trouble and solicitude 
greatly increased, when the next day passed 
without his appearance; then alarmed, and full 
of anxiety, she dispatched the servants after him, 
placing herself meanwhile to look out from a 
window. At last, and almost at the close of the 
day, she beheld approaching the house her lover s 
faithful dog. Margaret rejoiced, considering this 
a sure sign of his speedy approach, and full of 
delight, ran down to open the door to admit him. 
The animal came in, but far difi erently from its 
usual manner: instead of the bounds and spor 
tive ways, with which it usually frisked around 
her, it began to whine and howl piteously, and 



fcAINT MARGARET OF GORTON *.. 25 

at last fell fainting at her feet: such a. display 
of stillness in the dog rekindled fear in Margaret s 
hoai t, the more so, as no sign of her master could be 
discerned. Yet flattering herself that the faint- 
ness of the dog was caused merely by hunger, 
she gave him plenteous food : this the dog de 
voured with avidity equal to its exhaustion; 
and that must luiv been great, as the poor brute 
had not tasted a morsel from the time of the 
murder of its master, by who.se ill buried body it 
ha l posted itself for two days, to moan and guard 
it. When food had appeased its hunger, its 
grief was unabated, and with fu>h strength, it 
renewed its piteous winnings as before; and from 
time to time, taking hold of Margaret s skirt, it 
endeavored to draw her along. She observed 
attentively, and wavering between hope and 
fear, resolved to obey it, and seek under its 
guidance her lost one. 

She found him, but not as she sought him ; for 
when about a mile from Monte Pulciano, the dog 
left the beaten road, led her beneath the funereal 
oaks, where, digging away the earth with its 
paws as best jt could, it finally laid bare a part of 
that buried body. Margaret ran to uncover the 
rest with her hands, and at the cruel sight was 
horrified, her blood congealed and she fainted. 
Reviving oy ihe very paroxysm oi tier grief, it 



20 THE LIFE OF 

is easy to conceive wliat torrents of tears slit 
shed over those cold, mangled limbs; what in 
vectives she uttered against his erne! murderers 
who deprived her of her only stay, casting her 
back into her native poverty, the more sensible 
and bitter now that she had so long been living 
as a lady. But in this very anguish God awaited 
her, to disengage her from the vanity of the de 
ceitful world, and to turn her love to beauties 
that do not fade, pleasures that have uo bitter 
ness. 

By the sight of that decaying corpse God raised 
her mind to understand the brevity of this life, 
and the even greater deformity of her soul stained 
with mortal sin, her imminent peril of being 
plunged into hell herself as her mad lover had 
been. The heavenly light of the Holy Ghost 
set all this before her so clearly, as immediately 
to transform her from a great sinner into a great 
penitent. "Ut cognovit, resipuit Seraphici Or- 
dinis Magdalena: dimissa sunt ei peccata rnulta, 
quia dilexit multum ;" as Holy Church sings of 
her.* Weeping now rather over her past sins 
than her present misfortune, and inflamed with 
a deadly hatred against her own offences, she re- 

* As soon as she saw it, she repented, this Magdalen of the Fran 
ciscan Order. Many sins were forgiven her. because she loved 



SAINT MARGARET OB 1 COHTONA 27 

turned that same day to Monte Puleiano, resolved 
to lead a far different life from what she had hith 
erto. She accordingly at once laid aside all vain 
finery, attired herself in a poor black dress ; and to 
all those who still persisted in styling her Signora, 
she would answer : "Ah! call me only simier, it 
is the only name tnv scandalous life deserves." 

To blot out all recollection of this, she resolved 
to retire from Monte Puleiano. Hence, having 
arranged the affairs of the stricken house as 
quickly as possible and as well as she could, she 
resigned all faithfully to the relatives of the late 
nobleman ; and taking the road to her village, 
left that city, leading by the hand her little son, 
fruit of her love, but testimony of her shame, 
and no small part of her interior anxiety. " Oh, 
to how many does tribulation give understand 
ing! How many has a great calamity wrested 
from vice, and devoted to a life of piety ! says 
the venerable Cardinal Bellarmine, with whose 
seasonable words we close this chapter. 



28 THE LIFE OP 

CHAPTER III. 

HER RETURN HOME. 

EVERY step that Margaret took towards La- 
viano, cost her a great effort of heroic virtue, so 
great were the obstacles raised by the devil, the 
world, and the flesh. Knowing the deep stain 
cast on her family by her public concubinage, 
and remembering too her step-mother s harsh 
aversion, she could not blind herself as to the 
welcome that she would receive at home: she 
felt i.n anticipation her deep blushes on appearing 
before her parents and hearing their just rebuke. 
All these in mere imagination chilled the life s 
blood of the wretched woman, and oppressed her 
breaking heart with horror ; the more so as the 
devil, ever alert at any opportunity of her burst 
ing his toils, mightily increased these dark ap 
prehensions; and at the same time by interior 
flattering and temptation lured her back to the 
ease which she had enjoyed, the pleasures which 
she had tasted ; as to secure them would need only 
her giving herself to some other noble lover, 
whom she could easily gain anywhere by her 
charms and beauty. In this fierce conflict of va 
rious and powerful temptations, the new convert 
and inexperie i vd combatant suffered a deadly 



MAKGAHET OF COKTOJS A. 2i> 

agony. She triumphed at last by that just fear 
already conceived of an outraged God, an eternal 
hell, a sudden death: lights which God in his 
mercy kept brightly before her, more powerful 
than the shades of deceit. Strengthened by these 
reflections, and urged by these most efficacious 
stimuli, she triumphantly pursued her home 
ward way as she had started. 

On arriving, she proceeded at once to her 
father s house, fell at the feet of her amazed and 
indignant parent, and by lamentation and entreaty 
at last so moved him that he was about to receive 
her in his house, when the enraged step mother 
came up like a raving fury, pushed her violently 
from the.door, and turning to her indulgent hus 
band declared that if that infamous jade set foot 
in the house, she would leave it for ever. Poor 
father! wretched daughter! the tears that streamed 
from her eyes, his weighty arguments, at last 
calmed the furious woman a little, and she con 
sented to receive her. But she soon repented it. 
And although Margaret suffered in silence her con 
stant reproaches, obeyed her as a servant, served 
her as a slave ; nevertheless, inflamed with in 
creasing rage, she gained her husband over, and 
both with one accord, drove her pitilessly forth 
with a narsh order never to dare again enter their 
doors 



30 THE LIFE OP 

All Margaret s tears, her many entreaties, her 
promises of every kind, could not arrest the fatal 
blow ; she was forced to go, and set out with her 
little son, who wept bitterly with his disconsolate 
mother. Not knowing whither to turn her steps, 
she sat down in a neighboring garden under a 
fig tree, to relieve her breaking heart with tears 

At this favorable moment the infernal serpent 
hastened to renew his assaults, suggesting with 
subtle art, that to avoid perishing with hunger, 
and seeing her child perish too, she would have 
to go back to Monte Pulciano, and return to her 
former mode of life. The guilt and shame of 
her new sins would, the tempter whispered, lie 
at the door of those who had driven her to the 
extreme necessity. The temptation was a vio 
lent one, but at the instant, she with a fervent 
heart implored aid from God, her only help, and 
obtained it promptly. He suggested to her in a 
manner more sensible than ordinary inspirations, 
that she should at once proceed to Cortona, and 
there put herself under the care and direction of 
the charitable and holy sons of SATNT FiiANCIS. 
Margaret obediently embraced the inspiration at 
once, and although the distance was over eight 
miles, and her strength well nigh spent, more by 
the bitter anguish of her heart than by the want 
of sufficient lood, which for many a day she had 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 81 

not tasted, yet taking up her languid child, she 
turned courageously towards Cortona. In such 
noble exat.iples ofheroic magnanimity and con 
stancy, every repentant sinner should behold his 
model, "and having followed the sinner, follow 
too the penitent." 



CHAPTER IV. 

HER ARRIVAL AT CORTOXA. 

NEVER for ancient lordly Cortona dawned 
there a happier day, never struck there an hour 
more fortunate, than that in which the new peni 
tent, the great Margaret, set her foot within its 
noble walls, never to leave them ! By her exam 
ple, she was to reform the people, avert disaster 
from it by prayer, dispel misfortune by prodi 
gies, glorify its name by the fame of her stupen 
dous life, her blessed death, and finally, by her 
special protection, obtaining for them from God 
every prosperity. And worthy of Marga rat s 
most tender love did the Cortonese show them 
selves, from the moment that, she entered their 
walls. For as she entered, the Countesses Raneria 
and Maneria, equally eminent r or illustrious 



32 THE LIFE OF 

birth, and the more splendid gifts of Christian 
virtues, meeting Margaret, addressed her kindly, 
and imagining her condition, showed themselves 
ready to meet her wants. 

This offer, regarded by Margaret as a loving 
ray of God s providence, greatly encouraged her, 
and redoubled her confidence in him ; and with 
tears and sobs of true contrition, she succinctly re 
lated the whole course of her sad misfortunes: 
concluding with the declaration, "that God had 
ordered her to Cortona to throw herself entirely 
on the charity and zeal of the holy sons of Saint 
Francis, and also to put on the habit of the third 
order." The bitter tears, the ingenuous story, 
moved the ladies still more: and offering her 
their utmost influence with the Friars, they 
begged her meanwhile to seek a shelter with her 
son in their house. Margaret gladly accepted 
the offer, relieving herself meanwhile with thanks 
to her benefactresses, not in words only, but with 
a heart all inflamed towards a God so provident 
to her. 

In that house she at once undertook every 
humble duty of a servant ; and displayed as great 
zeal in chastising herself, as she did in serving 
her mistresses. The remembrance of the insults 
she had offered to God s majesty, inflamed her 
with ever increasing hatred of her body, the in- 



SAINT MARGARKT OF CORTONA. 83 

gtrumcnt of so many sins, and site waged pitiless 
war on it by constant Casts, prolonged scourging, 
and other more extraordinary acts of mortili ja- 
tion, invented by her avenging fervor; but as 
her countenance still preserved the bloom and 
grace and beauty with which she had studied to 
rob God of other hearts, she now in pitiless in 
dignation armed her fiercest vengeance against 
it: she tore it with her nails, she beat it with her 
fists, she bruised it with stones, deformed it 
with coals: she cut off her hair, and would at the 
same time have cut off her nose and lips to dis 
figure herself, had she not been prevented by the 
two ladies, whose attention was awakened to 
prevent her indiscreet and extraordinary rigors. 
Conscious that she needed a more authoritative 
check, they endeavored to place her under the 
direction of the Friars Minor. Heady as these 
were to assume her spiritual direction, they 
showed themselves as loth to grant her thus sud 
denly the habit of the third order, which she de 
sired: wisely judging that they should, in so 
young a woman, require a longer and less falla 
cious trial of the simerity of her repentance, 
and the constancy of her conversion. For this 
purpose they assigned her as a confessor, Father 
Giunta Bevignati, a religions most recomrnenda- 
bio for learning and venerable fi>r piety. A re- 



THE LIFE OF 



fusial so justifiable, while it gave no offence to 
the charitable ladies, inflamed Margaret to in 
crease her fervor in the following manner. 



CHAPTER V. 
HER PROGRESS IN SPIRIT. 

IN her first interview with the friars of the 
Seraphic order, God infused into Margaret s 
heart, a singularly respectful veneration for them, 
influenced by which, she readily profited by their 
slightest suggestions, and as promptly put them 
in execution. The first act of her obedience was 
a general sacramental confession at the feet of 
Father Giunta, and she gave it utterance rather 
by the tears of her eyes than the words of her 
lips: and if, to make herself understood, she at 
times interrupted her sobs, she never lessened 
her contrition; but this constantly gaining 
strength, made her tremble from head to foot, 
and fall fainting, bathed in a cold sweat, just as 
though she stood actually at the rigid tribunal 
of Christ the Judge. Yet, not satisfied with this 
intense grief, she returned daily to the Church to 
renew her accusation ; she constantly invoke ! 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 3 r 

her protector Saint Francis, and her specia 
patron Saint Mary Magdalene, to infuse into he? 
heart a sincere sorrow for her sins. To bewail 
them with her, she invited all who conversed 
with her on her return from church: to correct 
them, she revealed not only to her confessor, but 
also to her two hostesses, every evil though pas 
sing thought: to purge them away, she daily 
more earnestly begged of her director the most 
bitter penances. " Oh ! let me at least," she once 
exclaimed, "let me who have so scandalized 
Monte Pulciano, let me be led back, and with 
bare shaven head, with close bandaged eyes, with 
body unadorned, and face all covered, let me be 
led by a lady who will go through those streets 
profaned by me, saying aloud : This is that vile 
Margaret, who, by her wicked life, was the scan 
dal of all who knew her. " The holy religious 
rejoiced at such effects of burning contrition, and 
were themselves moved to compunction and love 
of God ; but they did not withal grant her as yet 
the habit of penance, which she so eagerly de 
sired and requested. 

To bring her mind to those better dispositions, 
which the cautious Fathers required as a condi 
tion, Margaret resolved to leave the pious ladies, 
and retire to a wretched hovel ; where, secluded 
from al" creatures, she might better devote her 



#6 THK LIFE OF 

self to the contemplation of her crucified God, 
and, less observed by man, might more severely 
chastise her hated body. Father Giunta highly 
approved her project; but not so the ladies, who, 
daily more taken with her holy virtues, clung to 
her as dearer than any joy. But they too yielded 
at last to the warm remonstrance of Father 
Giunta, on condition however that Margaret s 
hut should be no other than a little cot of theirs 
near at hand, and that they should still continue 
in the right and privilege of providing all her 
wants, both proper furniture and necessary food. 
Lovely quality of Christian charity, to deem a 
gain what is done to another, and to rejoice and 
exult the more it divides and distributes to 
others ! 

The conditions sought were granted to the 
charitable ladies, and they fulfilled them beyond 
their promise; little however did Margaret avail 
herself of it for her own comfort. She gave up 
to her son, still young, the whole of the little 
bed given her, taking her own scanty rest on 
the bare ground, or on the floor; increasing her 
fasts with her other austerities, distributing al 
most all the abundant food sent her among other 
destitute poor. To become more like them, and 
thus better gain the affections of the Seraphic 
Bather Saint Francis, that devoted lover of pov 



SAINT MARGARET OF C<>|<TONA. 37 

erty, she asked and implored permission to beg 
means of supporting life like the poorest. 

So at certain determined hours the humble 
saint begged from door to door: so cautious that 
she never ventured to enter a house ; so modest 
that she never raised her eyes to the face of a 
man ; and she would rather have met with ridi 
cule than charity : but from the great veneration 
with which the people of Cortona regarded her, 
she obtained charity, not scorn ; and charity so 
courteous, that when she asked soiled and torn 
clothes, they gave her white and whole ; when 
she could not refuse these, she either took them 
to some poor sick person, or changed them for 
the dirty rags of some less fortunate mendicant 
Nevertheless these liberal contributions of the 
people excited scruples in her mind, whether he 
mendicity, not absolutely necessary, was not pre 
judicial to other really necessitous persons una 
ble to gain a livelihood by labor. 

Hence she resolved with the consent of Father 
Giunta not to beg any longer, but to support 
herself by her labor. And that this should be 
more acceptable to God and useful to her spirit, 
she resolved to make it rather a source of relief 
to others than profit to herself. She accordingly 
devoted herself to attending women in childbed, 
aiding them not only by her labor but also by 
4 



88 THE LIFE OF 

feel 1 prayers ; so that all contended with each othei 
for the privilege of having her in that perilous 
drisis In the various houses to which she was 
called to attend on these occasions, her conduct 
was invariably the same, she asked no pay, she 
took no gift, and of the food set before her she 
took only the worst, and so little of that, that it 
seemed proper rather to whet hunger than re 
cruit the body. Every moment not devoted to 
the care of the ladies at these times, she spent in 
gome secluded corner in smothered, half sup 
pressed tears, and in breathing from her broken 
heart, sighs of bitter repentance for her faults. 

Signora Diobella having invited her once to hot 
house to attend one of her relatives named 
Matilda, in childbed, she pursued the same 
course, and Jesus in his goodness raised her into 
a sweet ecstasy, lifting her bodily into the air. 
This ecstasy was witnessed in amazement by 
Signora Matilda and a poor servant, to whom 
Margaret frequently gave alms ; and the report 
soon spread through the city to the renown, and 
equally to the displeasure of Margaret. 

The humble saint in consequence resolved to 
forsake entirely that service, now so disagreeable 
and wearisome to her, because it diverted her so 
much from her beloved compunction, and what 
was more, cut her off from the Masses, Offices 



SAINT MARGARET OP GORTON A. 89 

and Sermons of her venerated Fathers Minors. 
Yet constant in her resolve that her daily sup 
port should be the fruit of her labors, after 
nourishing her devotion in the Church of the 
Franciscans, she went silent and reserved to a 
shop to aid the linen and woolen weavers, for as 
many hours as were necessary to earn sufficient 
food for herself and child. So deadly an enemy 
has true sanctity ever been of slothful idleness 
and of avarice. 



CHAPTER VI. 

HEB PUBLIC PENANCE, AND RECEIVING OF THB 
HABIT AS A TERTIARY. 

THE acute pain that pitilessly pierced the con 
trite heart of the happy penitent, instigated her 
untiringly to maltreat more and more her de 
linquent body, as well as to compensate by pub 
lic penance for the injuries done to God s honor 
by her public errors. Seeing her confessor 
firm and determined, in refusing her permission 
to return to Monte Pulciano in the guise she de* 
ired, she begged him, and by her copious tears 
wrung from him a consent to her return for only 



40 THE LIFE OF 

two days to her own village, which she had so 
scandalized by her evil life. 

She repaired to it one Sunday, and arrived at 
the moment when most of the people were gath 
ered at Masss in the parish church. The humble 
penitent suddenly directed her steps to it; and 
entered barefoot, with close cut, uncovered head, 
with a thick rope around her neck, and pros 
trated herself near the altar, repressing as best 
she could her anguishing sobs, for fear of dis 
turbing the priest. The people were amazed 
[her parents were not there, either both dead or 
absent from the place at the time] at this spec 
tacle, and not recognizing her, awaited the end 
of this strange scene. As soon as Mass was over, 
Margaret, weeping and breathless, oast herself at 
the feet of a lady of rank named Manentessa, 
who had frequently but ineffectually checKed 
her in her licentious and dissolute life : and with 
bitter groanings she told her that she was that 
infamous Margaret who had so outraged God, 
dishonored her family, and scandalized her vil 
lage ; she asked pardon of all, and aid to obtain 
God s mercy for her grievous sins, which she now 
detested from her heart and wished to detest till 
death. 

More she would have spoken, but tears and 
<obe choked her utterance. Yet what little she 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 41 

did say, expressed with every mane of true com 
punction, so affected the people that more than 
one went away penitent and changed in heart. 
But most of all was the devout Manentessa 
moved : unable to contain herself at the sight, 
she embraced Margaret, raised her from the 
ground, covered her head with her veil and took 
her to her own home. 

Still more to confirm her in her proposed 
penance, she too promised to enroll herself among 
the Tertiaries, as she did in fact ; and to employ 
all her income in founding there a new hospice 
for the religious of their common Father, Saint 
Francis. Margaret consoled herself with this 
fruit of her humiliation ; for her ardent zeal 
longed to lead back to God as many souls as her 
past errors had seduced, imprinting deeply on 
her mind and heart that animam pro anima do 
severely intimated by God. 

The holy resolution of Manentessa increased 
in Margaret her old longing, now endured for 
three years, to assume at last the habit of the 
third order ; hence returning to Oortona within 
the two days allowed her by her confessor, she 
renewed more earnestly than ever her entreaties 
to receive at once the habit for which she sighed, 
so as openly to profess to all her condition of 
penitent, as she had already professed that of 



4:2 THE LIFE OF 

sinner Father Giunta, aware of the juht re 
luctance of his brethren, replied that it was ex 
pedient to await more certain proofs of her con 
stancy, which her still youthful age and beauty 
did not raise above suspicion. " Ah, why," re 
plied Margaret, grieving. " why do you tell me 
so ? Have I not faithfully done whatever you 
prescribed these last three years ? And as for 
the dangers which you dread from my still un- 
faded beauty, here I am ready to execute what I 
would long since have done but for your prohi 
bition. Let me cut off this nose, mangle these 
lips, and I will be more disfigured than you wish, 
and secure of all you ask." These magnanimous 
expressions excited Father Giunta s admiration 
and his amazement at this generous fervor. 

Kendered more courageous by this repulse, she 
returned to the convent another morning, and 
calling the Father Warden, told him all in 
flamed with Divine love : " Why are you so fear 
ful of me, Fathers? Know that God s merciful 
grace has so united me to him, that no flatteries 
of the world, no temptations of the devil will 
ever separate me from him. For mercy s sake 
do not withhold any longer your habit of penance 
that I have so long solicited." So deeply did 
these words sink into the heart of the Father 
Warden, that, although he had hitherto more 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 43 

obstinately than any other refused her this con 
solation, he immediately ordered the Gustos 
Father Rainald (or as others say, Raymond) to 
give her the habit that very morning; as he did 
faithfully, investing Margaret with the usual 
ceremonies in that sacred habit then given to 
her through charity by another aged Tertiary 
who was present. 

While this sacred function of the investure 
was taking place, Margaret s eyes streamed with 
more than usual floods of tears ; but so calm were 
they that they seemed to gush from the internal 
exulting of a satisfied heart, that melted in thanks 
to God for having made it all his own, and in 
sincere protestations to her new Seraphic Father, 
that she would ever be his worthy child, ever 
more and more dependent on his friars. From 
these the two good countesses Raneria and Mai- 
neria solicited and obtained leave to have Mar 
garet and her ever ill-fed child to dine that morn 
ing at their house. There to fill up Margaret s 
cup of joy, God put it in the heart of these ladies 
to promise to provide means to send and main 
tain at school in Arezzo her son, now growing 
up ; so that she, relieved from every earthly in 
terruption, might give herself entirely to the 
embrace of God, her only good. Oh, how good 
is God to his faithful servants! Quam boniu 
Israel J)eii> dilt gentibus ! 



THE LIFE OF 

CHAPTER VII. 

HER FIRST CONVERSE WITH OUR LORI). ,,,. 

HER new state of Tertiar} excited Margaret to 
increase with not only the fervor of her heart, 
but also the austerities of her body, martyrizing 
it with more lengthened fasts, more cruel scourg- 
ings, sharper hair cloths, longer vigils at night, 
and perpetual silence by day, interrupted only 
by urgent necessity. She forbade her son, during 
those few days that he remained with her, to 
mention any earthly thing, any earthly parent, 
or in fact to speak of any thing but God alone. 
Her son obeyed her exactly : but as her hut stood 
in the very centre of the town, easy to be found 
by any one that sought it, there was a constant 
throng, either of the afflicted, who sought com 
fort from Margaret, or of the needy, who sought 
relief, or of the devout, who wished to partake 
of her fervor. She resolved, therefore, to retire 
to a spot more aloof from the settled part, and 
for this purpose asked and obtained of Signora 
Diobella an abandoned hut but a few steps distant 
from the Church of the Friars Minor. 

From this cot she repaired daily at an early 
hour and unobserved, to the church; and as long 
as the Divine Offices lasted she remained in 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 45 

grayer before a crucifix, in whose open wounds, 
better than in any book, she read the abominable 
effects of her sins, anJ excited bitter compunc 
tion. While prostrate once at the foot of this 
crucifix, and weeping copiously as was Tier wont, 
Jesus began to show her more confident fami 
liarity. He had previously, often indeed, rapt 
her out of her senses, and absorbed her in the 
sublimest contemplation of his Passion : thus, 
one night, when called upon by a woman in 
labor, she walked through Cortona lost in com 
passion for his sufferings ; she approached una 
wares the brink of a deep well, and was on the 
point of being drowned had she not been saved 
by a miracle ; but our Lord had never yet actually 
conversed with her. The first converse was on 
the day we speak of, when from that effigy of 
his, he sensibly said to her : " What wilt thou, 
poor little one?" Without considering the 
novelty of the circumstance, Margaret suddenly 
replied : " I seek naught, my Jesus, but thyself." 
But when she had returned better to herself, she 
reflected on what had happened, and was filled 
with confusion and amazement, that a God so 
great and so outraged by her, should deign to 
console her by his sensible voice! This same 
Crucifix is still preserved, exposed in the church 
where lies tho fresh and fragrant body of the 
Saint. 



4fl THE LIFE OF 

By this title of Poor little one, Jesus intusod 
into her mind a clear discernment of her demerit 
for any good, her capacity for evil alone ; and by 
this light how did she increase in self contempt, 
as well as burn with gratitude for God the giver 
of all her good ! A sentiment which he soon in 
creased; for not long after, when in a more 
lengthened colloquy, he recalled minutely, in a 
distinct interior voice, every grace bestowed 
upon her while in a state of sin the special 
providence by which he tore her from sin, direct 
ed her in her return home, guided her to Cortona, 
and caused her to be welcomed by those two 
pious matrons, and presented to the good sons 
of the great Patriarch Francis, concluding thus: 

"Fear not to obtain full remission of thy sins, 
which thou wilt infallibly obtain, and thou shalt 
inflame others, colder and more coy. I have 
destined thee as an example to sinners, in order 
that they may clearly understand, that if they 
will prepare to receive my grace, they will ever 
find me ready to give it, just as I have quickly 
turned to thee. I consign thee then as my pre-- 
cious treasure, O my poor little one, to the care 
and good direction of my Brethren, whom I en 
join for my sake ever to protect and instruct 
thee wherever thou shalt dwell; for by the;spe- 
eia! care that these Fathers take of thy salvation 



SAINT MARGARET OF COR f ON A. 47 

their order will become more honorable to the 
whole world." 

Margaret, who had found such assistance in the 
examples and counsels of those holy religious, 
begged -the Lord to assist them more and more, 
and to establish more firmly their salutary insti 
tute. The Lord replied: "So it shall be, for 
these friars are elect, whom I cherish with deep 
est affection." 

The little hut, wherein she so often received 
from Jesus the name of his Poor little one, is now 
changed into the beautiful convent of the clois 
tered Franciscan nuns, who in veneration of what 
there befel their beloved protectress, are called " Le 
Poverelle." But this name of Poor little one 
was now wearisome to Margaret, who panted for 
the greater merit and better title of child. 

O 

Spurred on by her impatient desire of obtaining 
it, and animated by the familiarity which Jesus 
permitted, she one day in the month of December 
asked frankly : " And when, Lord, shall I hear 
myself called thy daughter ?" He replied, " that 
she did not yet deserve it, as she was still the 
child of sir>, but that she should make a general 
confession of her sins." These unexpected words 
were a thunder bolt to Margaret s heart. Burst 
ing forth into most bitter tears, she turned sup 
pliant to her beloved Father Saint Francis, to 



4 THK LII*K OK 

her beloved protectress Saint Mary Magdalene 
begging them to obtain for her a clearer know 
ledge and more intense sorrow for all her faults 
go as to cleanse her entirely from any remnanf 
of sin. She was heard to such an extent, that in 
her new general confession made to Father Giunta, 
she spent a whole week, exposing every minutia, 
enumerating every circumstance of her whole 
disorderly life, with such anguishing contrition, 
that it would be difficult to show a Peter more 
full of compunction, a Magdalene of grief. 

This sad confession was concluded at last, 
about the day of the Holy Innocents, and that 
same morning by order of her confessor she re 
ceived the bread of angels, and while she turned 
her inflamed heart to her Divine Guest, she 
heard resounding in the very centre of her soul 
the sweet and desired words : " My daughter." 
The expression immediately deprived her of 
sense, absorbed her in an ecstasy of inward joy. 
This ecstatic accident was witnessed by the Father 
Warden, the Gustos Father Bain aid, Father 
Giunta, a lady, and other bystanders. Margaret 
recovering a little from her ecstasy, and not 
noticing them, exclaimed with joy and exulta 
tion: O supreme sweetness of our good God I 
happy day for me, promised by my Jesus! 
O word full of all satisfaction, that thou hast 
deigned to call me daughter I 



SAINT MARGARKT OF GORTON \. 49 

More she would have said, but excessive joy 
ravished her again from her senses; and the by 
standers who crowded up. could hear only 
"Daughter of Jesus," which as she felt it so 
deeply, was alone thought and expressed by 
her. O merciful God,- truly sweet with sinners! 
"Si impius egerit pcenitentiam ab omnibus peccatis 
suis, omnium iniquitatum ejus, quas operatus est, 
non recordabor." " If the impious man shall do 
penance for all his sins. I shall no longer re 
member all his iniquities that he hath wrought." 
So he promised by Ezechiel, and to prove it by a 
second evidence, most fortunate Margaret invites 
all by her example, as penitent David in conso 
lation invited by example and voice : " Taste and 
see how sweet the Lord is." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

NEW FAVORS FROM JESUS CHRIST. 

THE most welcome title of daughter given her 
by Jesus, much as it added of tenderness to Mar 
garet s love for him, increased greatly also the 
bitterness of her grief for having offended him. 
Her heart fairly broke when she reflected that 
5 



50 THE LIFE OF 

she had spent so much of her life in diverting 
ber own affections, and those of others from a 
God so good in himself, and so bountiful to us, 
and her excessive grief drew unceasingly new 
torrents of tears from her eyes. Ever dissatisfied 
with her contrition and disconsolate, she begged 
night and day of her patron saints, greater re 
pentance and greater grief. And although they 
obtained it for her, she never considered herself 
answered; but ever more confused and afflicted 
at her intense hardness of heart, she was often 
ready to faint with grief. So that Jesus, appeased 
by her outbursts of insatiable contrition, fre 
quently appeared visibly and familiarly to her, 
assured her with his own rnouth that he did not 
need greater repentance, her last general confes 
sion having remitted all, and annulled her former 
faults; that if like Magdalene, she wished to be 
assured of having obtained the pardon she de 
sired, he himself who had already said: "Thy 
sins are forgiven thee," now said to her: "I ab 
solve thee fully from all thy guilt." 

This kind condescension was indeed a great com 
fort to Margaret ; but yet she did not enjoy entire 
peace. The insatiableness of her grief did not 
arise so much from the uncertainty of the pardon 
obtained, as from the certainty of having offended 
so amiable a God : and she looked rather in her 



SAINT MARGARET OP CORTONA. 51 

repentance to make amends for his violated honor, 
than to secure remission for herself; hence, she 
implored him to reveal clearly what she could 
do to please him most. The benign Lord soon 
gratified her. If the pious matrons of Cortona, 
not to disturb Margaret s solitary contempla 
tions, willingly deprived themselves of her as 
sistance in their childbed ; they could not suffer 
in peace, that their children should be deprived 
of the advantage of her prayers. Hence, they 
would have them borne to the sacred laver by 
no other hands than hers alone. The charitable 
Saint did it indifferently for all, even of the 
lowest class, and with all the greater action of 
her fervent heart ; yet she felt an internal reluc 
tance and scruple, as it were, that this exercise of 
charity on her part was not pleasing to God. 
Once having done it with the son of the Syndic 
of the Friars Minor, yielding to the pressing 
solicitations of the mother, her disquiet and agi 
tation of conscience, the following night, were so 
great, that she could not close her eyes during 
her short repose. 

To the question which Margaret addressed 
him, Jesus replied, " that pious as this office was, 
she should not so easily be induced to undertake 
it: and that she should no longer go begging 
through Gortona, but be content with whaterer 



62 THE LIFE OF 

food was sent her through charity by his reli 
gious ; that she should keep retired in her cell, 
and not leave it, except to go to church, and that 
there, to avoid the looks of others, she should 
withdraw into the furthest corner near the pul 
pit." These admonitions of her Jesus enkind 
led in Margaret so ardent a desire of retirement, 
that to appease it, she begged to be shut up per 
petually in her cell ; where alone with him alone, 
she could always converse freely with him, free 
from those interruptions, which even in church 
occurred, either from meeting unseasonably de 
vout matrons, or from the troublesome curiosity 
of bystanders, too close observers of her rav 
ishments and tears. To this, Jesus did not con 
sent, saying: "that she might banish herself 
from all other places, but not from the church 
of his Brethren, where he wished to be honored 
by her and received sacramentally." 

But as he saw her most disconsolate, he not 
long after, and when her son had gone to study 
at Arezzo, moderated the repulse given, adding, 
" that she should observe so strict a silence, that 
without his order, she should not say a single 
word to any secular, or give them more than a 
passing look ; and, if in time of her frequent in 
firmities, the aid of others was necessary, she 
hould state her wants simply to some pious lady, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 63 

and be served by her without uttering a word 
not absolutely necessary : yet to the Friars she 
should freely open her conscience." 

The faithful Margaret fulfilled this exactly ; 
but very often with scruples and anxiety, on ac 
count of the visits paid her by persons to whom, 
without incivility and ingratitude, she could not 
refuse entrance to her little hut, or a reply to 
their questions. 

To free her from this wearisome anxiety, Jesus 
compassionately ordered her " to retire as far as 
possible from inhabited parts, and to withdraw 
to the highest point of the rocky city in an aban 
doned hut near the castle ; where with less pain 
she could emulate the solitary life led in the 
grotto of Marseilles, by her most partial protectress 
Saint Mary Magdalene." Margaret exulted at a 
command so unison to her feelings ; but did not 
venture to put it in execution, till it had been 
approved by her confessor, Father Giunta. On 
hearing this unexpected idea, he complained not 
a little in the well founded fear, that in conse 
quence of the distance of that spot from the 
convent, his superiors would not allow him to 
go as frequently as he was wont to visit her in 
sickness ; and still more, lest in case of her dying 
in that place in another parish, her body should 
be carried for interment to some other church 
5 * 



64 THE LIFE OF 

than that of the Friars, who so earnestly desired 
this precious deposit for themselves. Henoe, he 
would not at once determine anything, but that, 
for the present, she should remain in her usual 
cot. 

Here she earnestly prayed her Jesus, to remove 
every obstacle to her intended greater retire 
ment, and dissipate every doubt in her confes 
sor s mind. Our benign Lord appeared, and as 
sured her, "that it was already fixed and decreed 
in heaven, that her dead body should remain in 
no other hands, than those of the sons of St. 
Francis, to whom in life and death he had given 
her as a pledge of his special love." Father 
Giunta, on being satisfied the next day by Mar 
garet, went himself to secure and prepare the hut 
Tendered henceforth more conspicuous than the 
most august palace, by the fervor there displayed 
by Margaret ; exalted by the whole court of hea 
ven, who so often descended to delight with her, 
and by the blissful exit thence made by her tri 
umphant spirit to heaven ; and finally, by the 
sumptuous temple erected to guard and adorn 
her white and flexible body, stupendous worker 
of great prodigies, with which, in protestation 
of gratitude to her divine Glorifier, she seems 
constantly re-echoing to all, " O Lord God, thou 
hast exalted my habitation on Lhe earth, and thou 
hast honoured the place of rny feet. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 66 

CHAPTER IX. 

HER TEMPTATIONS BY THE DEVIL. 

HER speedy flight from Monte Pulciano, her 
generous return to her father s house, the loth 
toleration of her there, and her unabated con 
stancy on being driven out by her own father, 
gained for Margaret the most tender love of the 
King of heaven and all his blessed subjects, but 
at the same time roused ior her destruction the 
most furious rage of Lucifer and his followers. 
There was no crafty art, no insidious device, no 
impetuous assault, that the devils did not attempt 
to check her in the path of perfection, and en 
tangle her anew in the old meshes of iniquity. 
Well they knew that by sensual love they 
had already gained her, and for so many years 
held her a slave ; now to reconquer her, they 
lighted ever more furiously that fire of hell, that 
had served them so well. They carefully strove 
to keep ever fresh and lively the old images of 
beloved objects and pleasures enjoyed ; and re 
viving these, they also inflamed the most ardent 
longings of craving concupiscence. Not un- 
frequently they filled her ears with the sensible 
sounds of amorous songs and vile airs; not un 



56 THE LIFE OF 

frequently the malignant fiends went so far as 
to raise before her eyes the beauteous forms of 
lascivious youths, and wanton girls, dancing 
madly around, and endeavouring to induce her 
to join their " .elry. The more pleasing these 
allurements, <(he more disgusting were they to 
the afflicted Saint, who by constantly fixing her 
mind on holy thoughts, cancelled these profane 
imaginations; and by assiduous and painful com 
passion for the sufferings of her crucified Love, 
she crushed these insolent longings for pleasure, 
dissipated by fervent prayer the impure though 
harmonious songs, and by bloody scourging of 
her body, put to flight the alluring delusive 
crowd of impudent tempters. 

They soon returned boldly to insult her with 
new weapons. They raised up distinctly all her 
many sins: they exaggerated their malice as 
though hers was the worst soul in the world. 
Then in the greatest anxiety of this horrid retro 
spect, they whispered that it was vain to hope 
for God s pardon, as he had already immutably 
decreed to exact eternal penalty of her in hell. 
She should not trust to her continued and pain 
ful tears, as God did not accept them ; all the ap 
paritions which she had enjoyed had been de 
ceitful and fallacious, made by the demons them- 
gelves, to win her love in that lying semblance, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 57 

U gain her adoration by those splendid false 
hoods. This blow would really have dejected 
and disheartened Margaret, had not her loving 
Jesus, her consoler, appeared soon to direct and 
encourage her. " The favors bestowed by him on 
her, were such," he said, " that the demons 
could never learn to feign or counterfeit them." 
He assured her that his most partial zeal for her 
perfection and salvation, would never suffer her 
to be deluded or deceived by her wily foes. 

The obstinate tempters soon changed the scene, 
and from the depths of despair, next sought to 
raise her to the giddy heights of ambition. They 
set before her the very favors of Jesus in vain 
show, with the pompous display of beautiful 
virtues practised by her, the many signal victo 
ries she had gained, the high esteem as a great 
saint, which she had attained in the eyes of the 
Friars and of all the people of Gortona. The 
most humble Saint blushed that such vain 
thoughts could arise in her heart, once so laden 
with iniquity. One night while praying in her 
hut near the fort, she felt more vehemently urged 
to self complacency and vanity. Indignant 
against herself, she got upon the roof, and with 
all the fervor of her spirit cried : " Up, all ye 
people of Cortona, arise, arise, and with stones in 
your hands, drive this wicked and scandalous 



58 THE LIFE OF 

woman out of your city." So loud were these 
cries, that in that nocturnal silence, they were 
heard in the lowest part of the city, many were 
moved to compunction, and all those haughty 
instigators fled, bent on repairing all these de 
feats by more subtle stratagems. 

They feigned themselves passionately zealous 
for God s honor, which she would repair the 
better by her present penance the longer it con 
tinued ; but to give it continuance, it was abso 
lutely necessary to moderate its rigor, diminish 
her long prayer, interrupt her austere solitude, 
relieve her too oppressed and almost annihilated 
body. Here too her loving Jesus was at hand, 
to warn her against the scarcely disguised frauds 
of the enemy ; directing her to " make no change 
in the usual tenor of her life, except to love 
more tenderly for his sake alone all creatures, 
never to judge their actions, despise any, or let 
her natural antipathy even for a moment alienate 
her from any one." 

The demons, seeing all their arts unavailing 
to seduce Margaret, tried force. With frightful 
cries, they told her that if she did not give over 
so many devotions, they would drag her out of 
that cell ; and to drive her out, they hurled 
against her, horrid forms of deadly serpents, 
savage beasts, and of ner terrible monsters. On 



SAINT MARGAKKT OF COKTONA. 59 

>ne occasion, however, the demon appeared in 
the aspect of a gigantic and fearful dragon, who 
with eyes that cast forth globes of black smoke, 
prepared with open jaws to swallow her. En 
couraged by her God, the generous heroine did 
not fear ; but deriding the evil one for his 
greater deformity, boldly bid him go, and hide 
himself in the deep bosom of his deserved hell, 
and seizing a lighted fire brand, she thrice con 
temptuously dashed it at his head. The brute, 
infuriated more by the just scorn than by the 
blows, seized and grasped her so as to devour 
her. Then poor Margaret invoked her Jesus, 
and at the triumphant sound of that dreaded 
name, the daring monster left her palpitating, 
and exhaled, as he went, so pestilential a breath, 
that the eyes of the Saint were obscured and 
blinded, as it were, for a whole hour. Yet she 
steadfastly continued her prayers, rendering af 
fectionate thanks to the liberal Giver of her cour 
age, to the glorious Operator of her triumphs. 
The devils returned more furious than ever to 
disturb her ; and fixing themselves under the 
beams of the floor, they bellowed like so many 
mad bulls, threatening to make her descend at 
once to hell, to which, as they said, God had, 
without recourse, condemned her a threat which 
Jesus came at once to deny, confirming the full 



60 THE LIFE OF 

pardon of her sins already given, and once more 
absolving her himself. Thus, liberally, does he 
reward his generous champions, and generous 
champions are all who trust in him. " Let us 
put our strength in the Lord, and he will bring 
our enemies to naught." 



CHAPTER X. 
HER SUFFERINGS FROM MEN. 

MORE distressing to Margaret than the temp 
tations of the hostile demons, were the vexations 
of friendly men ; because the love of these in 
troubling her, often finds vigor and strength, in 
that very respect to God,* whereby the hatred 
of the former was overcome and weakened in 
disquieting her. 

Jesus had commanded her to observe inviola 
ble silence, on the day of her communion, and 
out of her ordinary confession, to refrain from 
the slightest word with any person whatever. 
Exact obedience to this rigid injunction of her 
Lord, gave Margaret great trouble. 

The report spread through Gorton a, undoubt- 

* Putantes obsequium se praestare Deo. 



SAINT MARGARK1 OF COHTONA. 61 

edly by an artifice of the devil, that Margaret s 
son, through grief for being separated from his 
mother, and in want of every tiling, had thrown 
himself into a well, to end his life. This false 
rumor gained credit, as none of his fellow scho 
lars could give any account of him, nor did he 
appear in Cortona, to solemnize Eastei at home, 
as other scholars did. His very master in Arezzo, 
believing the tragic event true, came to Cortona, 
to break the sad tidings to the mother. He went 
to address Margaret in the morning after she 
had received communion, when she had re 
tired to pray in her little hut, and he exposed 
the sad case. But seeing her undisturbed at 
this mournful intelligence, and with eyes fixed 
on the ground, refuse him all answer, even to 
his repeated requests for the proper salary, he 
was highly scandalized at her indolent and un 
civil taciturnity ; and, muttering rudely at so 
Unjust and unloving a mother, he went angrily 
to complain to the Franciscans who directed her. 
Even they were amazed at what had happened, 
and to verify it, took him back with them to 
Margaret. There the confessor set forth the 
master s just complaints ; and she spoke not. 
He asked the reason of her obstinate silence, 
she spoke not. He began to speak of holy things, 
thus at least, to elicit a word ; but she 



62 



THE LIFK OF 



remained silent as ever. He took her aside and 
begged her at least to reply to him in private; 
but all was useless. 

He was, as jet, unaware of the severe injunc 
tion of Christ, and though he durst not condemn, 
he could not justify her to those present, who 
greatly scandalized, blamed, and rebuked her as 
disobedient and wilful, and as such, they repre 
sented to others. To this unconquered resolu 
tion, Jesus urged her, saying then in his usual 
distinct voice: "Now I shall see whether thou 
wilt be moved at the master s words, and whether 
thou wilt dare to prefer my will to that of any 
creature." That apparent indifference to the fate 
of her son, sprang from her virtuous entire dis 
engagement, even from him, of whom she thought 
only to commend him to God. 

One day heaven opened mentally before her ; 
she beheld Mary the august Queen of heaven, 
upon her throne ; Margaret approached her with 
humble reverence, and earnestly solicited her 
most powerful protection for herself and her 
son. Our benignant Lady promised it for both, 
assuring her, " In return for the love thou bearest 
my son, Jesus, I have made thy son a Francis 
can, and a good preacher," as was ere long 
verified. 

After he became a friar, and was in the convent 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 65 

of Cortona, a pass.onate outburst inflicted on 
that mother s heart a pain that the sad news of 
his death had not produced. One night he did 
not appear at Matins ; the Father Warden went 
in person to his cell to know the reason ; rinding 
him overcome with sleep, he called him repeat 
edly, but in vain ; then he took a light rod and 
struck him gently. The sleeping youth, roused 
by the blows, rushed with a loud cry at the hand 
that struck him, and seizing the rod, was about 
to turn it on his corrector, against whom he 
showed a disrespectful anger. The prudent and 
discreet superior retired from the contest, re 
turned to the choir, and left the angry youth 
half asleep. His mother saw a41 this in ecstasy, 
and wept and grieved as for her own fault. 
Early in the morning she went to the church, 
obtained permission from the Father Warden 
that the culprit should be sent to her ; then she 
wept and said so much in detestation of his in 
considerate anger, that she made him weep bit 
terly. By his zealous mother s continual prayers 
and holy example, he ever after lived as a gooil 
religious and died a holy death. 

Whenever through obedience to his superiors, 
he was detained out of Cortona, his good mother 
used on occasions to send him letters, animated 
with what spirit, and couched in what terms may 



64 THE LIFE OF 

be seer, from the following, written when she 
received the glad tidings of his entrance into the 
order of their common Father Saint Francis. 

" Blessed be God, O my son, to whose service 
I consecrate you. If through love of God by 
austerity of life, you" merit to go on ever advan 
cing in the height of his true knights, you shall 
be in fact of my family : then shall I be your 
true mother, when you faithfully observe what I 
enjoin. First I counsel you, that you must be 
born to the love of Christ, that obedience and 
profound humility may be planted in your soul. 
Follow the order of the Friars, and serve each 
faithfully without any partiality, or acceptance 
of persons. Be grateful to God for all the fa 
vors which he has bestowed on you ; and be ever 
bashful, reverent, modest, never murmuring at 
any thing. Show your love to the order by re 
tirement, flying the useless company of seculars. 
Let your prayers, my son, be offered with devo 
tion, and against your enemies; that is, against 
yoursins. Endeavor to manifest candidly to your 
confessor all that passes in your conscience; 
for the sick cannot be cured unless they show 
the disease to the physician. Receive with great 
meekness the counsels given by the wise. Never 
fail to recite the canonical hours devoutly, at the 
time prescribed by the church. When any 



SAINT MARftARKT OF CORTONA. 65 

brother corrects you for your faults, u.icover 
your head, and kneel down at once to ask pardon 
for the fault for which you are rebuked. ID 
every difficulty recal to mind the memory of 
your crucified Lord. Set a wall before your lips, 
that you may be slow to speak. If you wish 
by purity of heart to enjoy the familiarity of 
our Lord, guard your thoughts from every vice, 
frequently read the rule, and endeavor to be a 
diligent observer of all that it contains." 

Another trial arose from the private devotion 
of some gentlemen of Cortona for her. It had 
reached their ears that Margaret spent the whole 
night in prayer, sighs, and tears ; to verify it, 
and also to excite themselves to compunction by 
her example, they frequently came at midnight 
to the door of her hut, and remained a consider 
able time, listening to the devout exclamations 
and fervent affections that exhaled to God from 
that inflamed heart. The companion who was 
then with Margaret, perceiving this, entered the 
house, and took it ill that these should come to 
observe their doings; and to dispel any such 
wish on their part, she one night posted herself 
outside waiting for them, to make them regret 
their coming. As soon as they came, she re 
ceived them with a volley of abuse. This time 
the pious gentlemen had brought with them a 



66 THE LIFE OF 

lo.w servant maid ; she, hearing her master so 
abused, flew into a passion and replied with 
similar abuse. The quarrel grew so warm that 
Margaret, roused from her contemplation, felt 
obliged to go and check it. She opened the door, 
and endeavoring in vain to make one at .east 
stop, she took the maid by the arm, and brought 
her with her masters into the house, excluding 
ner companion that night as some satisfaction. 
This kind act should certainly have calmed the 
angry servant; but she was the more irritated at 
Margaret, and vomited in her face such indecent 
abuse, that worse could not be applied to an 
abandoned wretch. The mortified gentlemen 
rebuked her, and Margaret took it all in good 
part ; but the servant, ever more possessed by the 
devil, disregarded the rebuke of her masters, 
despised Margaret s humiliations, concluding 
that she was a vile hypocrite, a proud deceiver. 
The truly holy penitent then threw herself at her 
feet, cordially thanking her for having a little 
enlightened her, and for having overlooked what 
more her great sins deserved. Unable to with 
stand this heroic humiliation, the proud spirit 
that had seized that perverted servant, fled ; and 
she, coming to a better state of mind, retired calm 
and contrite. 

Not as soon en J ed another worse trial, long 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 67 

before announced by our Lord, and occasioned 
by the greediness of the companion already men 
tioned. The great weakness of the stomach, 
which Margaret suffered, induced her confessor 
to oblige her to use a little wine in these faint 
turns. Some charitable persons having kindly 
offered what she required, she sent her compan 
ion to their house to get it, with strict injunctions 
to accept no more than a little flagon, and that 
only once a month. But abusing the charity of 
those liberal benefactors, she went in Margaret s 
name every day, and solicited not only for wine 
in good measure, but many other things that the 
austere penitent did not need, but which were 
for her family, or to satisfy her own gluttony. 
This importunity, notorious to the whole city, 
not only wearied the liberality of some benefac 
tors, but discredited Margaret with most; the 
more so, as the ungrateful woman, in the houses 
where she went, often turned into derision Mar 
garet s actions, and threw discredit on her virtue. 
Jesus himself revealed this lamentable catastro 
phe to Margaret ; and although she felt it most 
sensibly, she nevertheless showed herself ready 
to let these unfavorable opinions of her take their 
course. But as it involved so much scandal of 
others, Father Giunta prudently resolved to dis 
pense forever with that sordid babbler, and substi- 



68 THE LIFE OF 

tuted another compan ion, named Egidia, who ma le 
great progress in the path of virtue by Marga 
ret s holy example ; and by her prayers was re 
leased from purgatory, and soared to heaven to 
the very choir of Cherubim. 

But nevertheless the discredit thrown on Mar 
garet daily gained ground, and assumed such dark 
colors, that the common veneration was changed 
into public contempt; she was insulted as a 
hypocrite, avoided as one possessed, jeered at as a 
fool ; and some declared themselves scandalized, 
no less at the stolid credulity of those who came 
from distant parts to venerate such a woman, as 
at the loving friendship accorded her by the Fran 
ciscans. There were some too who, measuring 
Divine clemency by their own unfeeling hearts, 
publicly declared it impossible, that those 
graces attributed to Margaret could have been 
communicated by a just God, to a woman whose 
life had been so scandalous. Jesus himself 
seemed inclined to corroborate these aspersions, 
by withholding for a long time from his servant 
those public exterior signs of ecstatic raptures, 
copious tears, amorous enthusiasm, which had 
first won her such high veneration from all. 

And yet these impudent detractions so dis 
pleased Jesus, that appearing once to Margaret, 
he declared himself greatly irritated against these 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 69 

backbiters, and was about to pronounce a severe 
sentence against them, resolved not to admit any 
mediation in their favor, so that she should cease 
to interpose in future in their behalf. But this 
prohibition inflamed her more, like another 
Moses, to beseech him to be appeased, and disarm 
his wrath : or at least to let all the fault fall upon 
her, and let them go entirely unpunished. Thus 
her heroic and fervent charity, not contented 
with the counsel, "Pray for them that persecute 
you," advanced to that, "Do good to them that 
hate you." Learning certainly that a vile woman 
slandered her in all quarters, in regard to the 
aid which she solicitously gave the needy, she 
immediately took off her veil and dress, gave up 
every better article of food she had at the time, 
and sent all as a gift to that wretch ; and learning 
moreover that she was harassed by some credi 
tors, she set herself to find what the event proved 
the not inconsiderable sum needed to extricate 
her from her embarrassment. " Many waters 
cannot quench charity." 

These common discourses against the poor 
Saint, by persons even of conspicuous rank, re 
commended by learning, and even by the reli 
gious profession, threw the friars into great con 
sternation, and not a few of them at last joined 
in the false alarm so that Father Giunta himself) 



70 THE LIFE OP 

by the example of the most pi adent and t 
religious, was induced to fear at least some illu 
sion in his penitent, and subjected her to most 
austere and painful tests. The disconsolate 
Margaret was ready to give up the ghost, to see 
herself thus held lightly by her beloved brethren, 
and thus treated by her kind confessor. Yet 
she suffered all in peace, and completely con 
cealed her anguish. 

But what she could not dissemble with her 
Jesus, was the hateful charge of illusion. Her 
Lord assured her " that the deceits of the devil 
had never had any effect upon her, nor should 
have, in consequence of the special care which 
He in his love would take of her." But this 
certainty always seemed less to the more vener 
able friars, now completely alarmed and dis 
heartened by the scandalous babblings then cur 
rent. 

On assembling at a Provincial Chapter at 
Sienna, they debated among other things on the 
mode to be pursued with Margaret, not only to 
justify their guidance of her, but even to secure 
their good name. The conclusion was that at 
the close of the Chapter, the Father Custos came 
to Cortona, and ordered Father Giunta to dis 
continue his frequent conferences with Margaret, 
and never to visit her in her hut except in times 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTOXA. 71 

of long and grievous illness, and then not more 
.than once a week. 

So stringent an order wounded Margaret s 
most afflicted heart in the most acute and sensi 
ble manner ; yet she desired, that at any sacrifice 
it should be most exactly obeyed, convinced 
with Saint Gregory, that "obedience is the only 
virtue that plants all other virtues in the soul, 
and preserves them there." But she could not 
without weeping bitterly, weeping tears that 
moved her loving Lord. He actually appeared 
to her visibly, and with a more than usually 
loving air asked what caused such bitter tears. 
Still weeping she replied, that they had no other 
source than the murmurs of her brethren the 
friars, to whom He had so specially commended 
her. " Thou shouldst rejoice,. daughter, rather 
than weep. Hast thou not often prayed to me 
to make thee like my and thy beloved Magda 
lene? And yet how did not merely the Scribes 
and Pharisees, but my most enlightened disci 
ples, murmur at her who had such confidence in 
me, and at me who praised her ! And yet I wish 
thee more like me than Magdalene, as a most 
special sister: prepare then for a dereliction, 
the greater, as it shall be more like to what I 
suffered for thy love." Encouraged by the words, 
Margaret offered herself to every cross which He 



, 72 THE LIFE OF 

was pleased to send ; and He accepting her ob 
lation, soon prepared a trial worse than any that 
her spirit had yet experienced. 

The good friars, seeing that Father Giunta s 
obedient reserve in conversing with and visiting 
Margaret, did not in the least appease the mur 
murs against them all, resolved at last to remova 
that Father from Cortona, and station him in a 
remote part. On receiving this irrevocable 
order, he himself bore the sad tidings to Mar 
garet, then suffering from a painful malady; she 
heard him with all intrepidity, but she felt the 
pain the more excruciating, as she more and 
more perceived the detriment caused by the ab 
sence of that venerated confessor, so often praised 
by the very lips of her Jesus. Moreover, not 
long after, the superiors for the same motives re 
moved from Cortona the good Father John, 
substituted by Father Giunta to direct her in 
bis stead, so that the poor Saint saw clearly that 
her alarmed brethren not only unwillingly heard 
her confession, but were loth to see her so fixed 
in their church. Hence, rather than in the least 
disturb their quiet or tarnish their good name, 
she preferred to sacrifice the quiet of her own 
soul, and the satisfaction of her own devotion, 
going to communicate out of that church the 
centre of her affections, because it had been a 



SAINT MARGARET. OF CORTONA. -73 

source of so many lights from God, so many 
succors in the examples and counsels of the re 
ligious. 

Vet more than any other, she frequented the 
pari&h church of St. George, which was but a 
short distance from her hut. In this church a 
most painful incident occurred. The pastor after 
hastily confessing her, communicated her so 
carelessly, that instead of the consecrated pyx, 
he took an unconsecrated one, kept also in the 
tabernacle in those times, to protect, in some 
measure, the true sacrament from the sacrilegious 
impiety of sorcerers, who stole consecrated hosts 
from the ciboriums. After such a communion, 
Margaret, not feeling her wonted fervor, feared 
some sinful indisposition in herself; and while, 
in great grief, she sought to ascertain it, Jesus, 
moved at her extreme anguish, disclosed to her 
that the carelessness of the priest was the solo 
cause of her present coldness. Such coldness 
and insensibility of devotion, she often experi 
enced in these sad times; our Lord adding to her 
other crosses, aridity of spirit, more torturing to 
the saints than any outward torment. " Many 
are the tribulations of the just;" and they are 
greater as the perfection to which they have as 
cended is higher. " He is a vessel of election 
I will show him how much he must suffer foi 



THE LIFE OF 



my name;" there being no steps of greater per 
fection than that of Calvary, already trodden 
by Christ, and by all other glorious followers of 
the Crucified. "By many tribulations it be- 
hooveth us to enter the kingdom of heaven." 



CHAPTER XI. 

HER SUFFERINGS FROM GOD. 

As the cross is God s happy instrument in 
forming saints, and as he had led Margaret to 
a most eminent sanctity, he employed it beyond 
all the usual laws of his providence. For seven 
long years he kept that venerated confessor away 
from her, and without giving her in any other 
point, any compensating consolation. In those 
dark days, he rarely appeared, and the other citi 
zens of heaven, once so familiar to her, showed 
themselves less frequently ; the poor Saint being 
left solely to the comfort to be derived from her 
heroic patience and resignation to God, and even 
or this, God, for her greater pain, permitted that 
she should seem to have little or none. But 
even this was not the severest trial sent by God. 
The torment, which was a real martyrdom for 



SAINT MARGARE1 OF CORTONA. 7$, 

her, AVBS her extreme horror at the offence dona, 
her beloved God : a horror which God constantly 
increased to transfix still more her contrite heart 
with two most acute points, the remembrance of 
thq past, and the uncertainty of the future. 

By the light of his amiability, which God ever 
more distinctly infused, she, by contrast, ever 
better discovered the guilt of a heart, not only 
obstinate in not loving him, but bent on hating 
him j and she was conscious to herself, of having, 
often contracted that guilt; she frequently heard 
them distinctly enumerated by God, to her in 
expressible grief. Inflamed with zeal to mak* 
atonement for so great a wrong to the Almighty, 
she bu,t felt her own inability to make any repa 
ration. Filled with this thought, she once burst 
into tears before confession, and thus choked 
her intense grief: "Ah! Lord, were my body of 
the weight and bulk of the whole world, and 
this huge body melt in tears, and bloody sweat, 
at my violent grief for my manifold offence? 
against thy immense goodness, alas ! I could not 
even then satisfy for the lightest fault I have 
committed." 

Her pain was sharpened by the humble, but 
alarming fear, that she might sometime second 
her many perverse inclinations; that she might 
sometime sink under the violent assaults of her 



76 

infernal enemies, nor did she ever deem herself 
sufficiently secure from the flattery of the one, 
or the violence of the other. Hence, she ear 
nestly solicited the prayers of others, and anx 
iously asked all, whether there was a hope 
that she would never again return to offend her 
beloved Maker. And, whenever Jesus showed 
himself with a confiding air, this was suddenly 
her question which she eagerly put him: this 
the grace which she earnestly implored. Among 
other occasions, this happened one Christmas, 
when Jesus, appearing to her in that beautiful 
semblance, showed himself ready to grant any 
request made; she at once, as the only grace, im 
plored that of never offending him more. He 
seemed astonished that she did not rather ask to 
go and enjoy him in heaven ; but she frankly de 
clared, that if he would only grant her never 
more to offend him, he might condemn her to 
hell, if it were his good will. 

Pleased with so magnanimous a resolution, 
Jesus assured her, as a reward, he would preserve 
her with special care; but that, nevertheless, ex 
cruciating fear, that agony of martyrdom, should 
be ever kept alive in her; concluding, "Thy 
martyrdom, O daughter, I wish to be simply this, 
great fear of losing, or of possibly offending 
me." To discover ever more the value of the 






SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 77 

beloved gem, and to be in constant dreal of 
losing it, is surely a great martyrdom. 

Of this violent martyrdom, even Margaret s 
body felt the torments, not only because she in 
revenge for its having so much contributed to 
her offences against God, ever pitilessly mal 
treated it ; but still more, because she besought 
of God the most painful disorders, in order to 
diminish the danger of returning to the dreaded 
sins by its incentives. God heard her to that 
point, that there was not a spot in her body free 
from almost constant pain, nervous convulsions, 
burning fevers, splitting headaches, dreadful 
pains in the bowels, weakness of the stomach, 
oppression of the heart, a wasting dysentery, 
devouring pustules, especially in the mouth, 
which made her teeth so sensitive, that the mere 
breathing the fresh air, and still more, chewing 
and swallowing necessary food, was often a deadly 
spasm. 

Nevertheless this cup full of suffering but in 
flamed her thirst for greater bodily afflictions, 
saying with Job : "Be this my consolation, that 
afflicting me with grief he spare me not." Hence 
to console her, Jesus once revealed to her, that 
for the residue of her life he had assigned her 
sufferings so much greater than those hitherto 
endured, that she would naturally have preferred 



78 THE LIFE UP 



the torments of the martyrs to undergoing them 
And he kept his promise, so fearful were the. 
various excruciat.ng maladies which at once as 
sailed her emaciated frame. In these diseases 
she was at times so overcome by pain as to be 
unable to apply her mind to recite the Lord s 
prayer: nevertheless her Divine Master warned 
her that it was his will that she should not even 
then omit her usual prayer, and should ever re 
ject any pleasing restorative. A command far 
difT erent from that usually given to other saints 
by his discreet and more than maternal love. 
Yet this rigor on his part was not unattended by 
special graces. He not only comforted her spirit 
to support with uncoriqnered fortitude these uni 
versal sufferings, but so strengthened her body 
that she could at their height drag herself to the 
church, and go around the city wherever it was 
necessary. Moreover, in the pure fire of so many 
tribulations, he extinguished in her every sordid 
flame of former fires, so that she no longer felt 
in her wasted body any sting of the senses, nor 
any phantasm of irnpuritv hateful to her chaste 
mind ; and her Jesus once could say : "Thou hast 
become so pure that I reckon thee among the 
virgins, and in their choir prepare thee a throne 
of glory equal to Magdalene s." Oh how true it 
is, "that to those who love God, all thru s co 
operate into g.md P 



8A1NT MARGARET OF COKTONA. 7)9, 



CHAPTER XII. 

I .:. = "I 

HER APOSTOLIC LIFE. 

THE unconquered patience constantly main 
tained by Margaret in so many different internal 
and external martyrdoms, had now richly en 
dowed her with that virtuous training so neces 
sary for gaining other souls, as according to our 
Saviour s declaration all rests on that base, "In 
patience ye shall possess your souls." And God 
in his mercy had raised her up as a contrite sin 
ner and favorite penitent to gain the most lost 
souls, so he honored her with the glorious titles 
of. Mirror of Sinners, Fisher of Souls. 

Persuaded hitherto that she was to effect this 
simply by her prayers, strengthened by her ex 
ample, she increased still more her holy exercises 
to wean herself entirely from all human inter 
course, and to live in perfect solitude with her 
Magdalene, buried for almost forty years in the 
Cavern of Marseilles. 

To divert her from this beloved exercise, her 
Jesus began to show himself grieving over the 
wickedness of the Christian world ; and he one 
day said : "The iniquities of men have now 
reamed such a height, that I scarcely venture 



THE LIFE OF 



to pray my eternal Father in their behalf, and 
my mother Mary fears in some measure to have 
recourse to rne to implore mercy." And he 
added, " that this had caused tho great and fear 
ful overthrow of the Christian army by the Sara 
cens, and the many melancholy revolutions that 
kept all Europe in confusion." On another oc 
casion, during the Paschal solemnities, she ex 
pected him, and begged him to appear in that 
joyful semblance: he appeared, but so afflicted 
and disconsolate, as though his dolorous passion 
were about to begin : expressing all the kind of 
sins by which human depravity renewed the 
fearful torments in every member of his Divine 
body, "again crucifying in themselves the Son 
of God," as he had already said by his apostle 
Paul; saving in conclusion, "that more Chris 
tians now-a-days than Hebrews of old conspired 
to transfix him, and wound him so, that could 
his body have equalled in size the whole world 
even in that immense body there would not be 
a spot exempt from wounds and bruises: so many 
and oft repeated were then the iniquities of men 
of every sex, age, and condition." 

Margaret was certainly not as horrified at the 
discovery of her impure lover s corpse, as now 
at the sight of the far more mangled body of her 
most adored Saviour. To comfort him she re- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 81 

newdd her protest "that she wished alone to serve 
him better than all creatures together slighted 
him." To appease him, she employed against her 
self unmerciful scourgings, that made the blood 
flow freely from her whole lacerated body. But ; 
hearing him still disconsolately complain that 
so many souls dear to him were lost, she at last 
understood what he meant to tell her, and re 
solved to leave her beloved retirement and de 
vote herself to advance the salvation of all, so 
desired by her Jesus. She implored every as 
sistance, which he promised, renewing her titles 
of Mirror of Sinners, Mother, and Fisher of 
Souls, already mentioned and set forth in the 
outset of this history. 

She undertook her apostolic career with so 
great energy, that there was not a vice that 
she did not attack; not a scandal that she did 
combat; not a sinner that she did not seek: she 
restored the frequentation of the sacraments, the 
due veneration of the Saints, proper respect for 
the Church, and led back wanderers to the right 
path. Those whom she influenced she sent to 
the friars to confess: and they were so many 
that poor Father Giunta, who had now returned to 
Cortona, unable to attend to the great multitude 
who came daily to his feet to purge themselves 
of a misspent life, several times complained to 



82 THB LIFK OF 

Margaret. The fame of these many miraculous 
conversions was soon diffused; so that persona 
hardened in vice came to her from Perugia, 
Gubbio, Florence, and even Rome, to obtain 
compunction through her wonderful efficacy. 
Thus Father Giunta attests as an eye witness, 
that they came not only from Apulia and other 
distant parts of Italy, but even from France and 
Spain, nobles, plebeians, laymen, and ecclesiastics, 
that they then returned well satisfied with their 
long journey, because they went away different 
from what they came. But her manner was not 
the same to all, but she was now placid, now 
austere; and in order that she might adapt her 
self to each, God very often enabled her to pene 
trate with his heavenly light their internal dis 
positions, and the most hidden secrets of their 
hearts. She encouraged all, proposing her own 
example, having been, as she said, a worse sinner 
than they : and yet so lovinglv welcomed back 
by Divine mercy, and treated with such super 
abundance of heavenly favors, as she constantly 
proved, and they saw in part with their own 
eyes, each being able to admire in her the words 
of scripture : " Many are the scourges of the sin 
ner : but mercy shall encompass him that hopetU 
in the Lord." 
Such ardent and efficacious zeal naturally pro* 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 83 

Vokod the powers of evil; and they, to recover 
the lost ground, resorted to every crafty artifice. 
They awakened against her the now appeased 
slander, that people should be ashamed to put 
faith in a visionary, follow a hypocrite: they in 
stigated the most esteemed religious, Franciscans 
and others, to protest strongly against a woman, 
still young and once so erring, admitting in her 
cell men of every age and state; that ignorant, 
and a woman, she usurped the duties that be 
longed exclusively to the ministers of the gospel. 
They assailed her herself once more with most 
troublesome stings of vanity, seeing herself con 
sulted by so many as an oracle, obeyed by all as 
a great spiritual master; they made her long for 
her sweet contemplations, which could ill com 
port with her constant conversation: they dis 
turbed her also with scruples; and once among 
others when a priest had recourse to her for 
counsel, and she, as he took leave, gave him her 
blessing, they set this act before her in the light 
of an execrable presumption, through which she, 
a vile woman, had dared to bless a consecrated 
minister of God. 

But Jesus dissipated all these malignant arts; 
and as he had led her to these undertakings, he 
encouraged her to persevere, assuring her of his- 
singular joy in all that she effected, and his spe- 



34 THE LIFE OF 

cial assistance in all that remained to do for the 
salvation of others, for he was the Lord who 
"guardeth the souls of his saints, and delivereth 
them out of the hands of the sinner." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

REMARKABLE INSTANCES OF SUCCESS. 

THE special assistance with which God in his 
mercy favored Margaret s holy zeal, was evinced 
most clearly in the following events. The un 
bridled licentiousness of a young noble of Cor- 
tona, went so far that he carried off the wife of 
a poor mechanic, and unblushingly took her to 
his house to gratify his impure desires. His 
great power kept in check, not only the just re 
sentment of the injured husband, but even the 
due action of the timid magistrates. This scan 
dal, though commonly condemned, was yet pub 
licly unpunished. His afflicted mother admon- 
ishel her delinquent son in every reasonablo 
way, but all in vain. At last one day, after com 
mending herself with more than usual earnest 
ness to God, she attacked him more zealously; 
and setting before him an angry God, hell opuu, 



SAINT MAKGAKKT OF COK IONA ? 85 

the disgrace of his name, the dishonor of all his 
family, she endeavored in every way to bring 
nirn to yield ; but seeing him still obstinate; she 
threw herself at his feet, and with copious tears 
besought to let them at least quench the flames 
of his guilty love, and not to suffer his beastly 
love for a strange woman to overcome all affec 
tion for an afflicted mother. The son said that 
all this grief moved him, but did not in the least 
alter his mind, and sighing added, that such an 
alleviation might perhaps follow his swallowing 
a morsel from the hand of Sister Margaret. The 
hopeful mother flew at once to her cell, and of 
the loaves so often given by herself in alms, now 
asked for herself in charity a single remnant. 
This unusual request excited humble Margaret s 
suspicion, and she refused; but understanding 
the object, and threatened vvitli the guilt of that 
lost soul, she gave it, adding fervent prayers to 
God that it might produce the desired effect. 
And so in fact it did. Scarcely had the son 
swallowed that hard crust received from his 
mother s hands, than he felt himself burn with 
far different flames, and bursting into tears of true 
compunction, he suddenly restored to the hus 
band his ravished wife, sought to repair the 
wrong by a large sum of money, and by a con 
trite confessioi at the feet of a pi iest, relieved his 
8 



THE LIFE OF 

soul of its burien of sin ; so constant in detesting 
them, so devoted in amending his life, that he now 
became as great an example as he had been a 
scandal to all. 

A mortal malady had reduced to extremity an 
other young libertine, and the devil in this state 
had brought him to the last despair, setting be 
fore him as unpardonable excesses, those very 
youthful sins, which he had once persuaded him 
were very venial frailties. Notwithstanding 
the warnings of physicians, the persuasions of 
confessors, the tears of his mother, he was about 
to die in despair, without the aid of the sacraments. 
In such a terrible crisis, the poor mother ran to 
implore Margaret s aid. Raising her heart to 
God, she for a time retired to pray : then return 
ing to the disconsolate lady, she told her to take 
her Father Confessor, Father Giunta, to visit the 
obstinate dying man, hoping that he would be 
moved. In fact, as soon as Father Giunta set 
foot in that room, his heart was suddenly changed. 

/ O 

and he not only conceived hopes of pardon, but 
obtained it, so exact and contrite was the con 
fession which he made to the Father, over 
whelmed with astonishment at so sudden a 
change. On his departure however, the spirit 
of despair again seized the wretched man, and 
ill terrors like the first, he frantically refused to 



receive the holy Viaticum. His mother hastened 
again to the miraculous Margaret, who immedi 
ately began to pray, and felt herself answered 
by Jesus, "that the mother was unworthy of 
that grace, for her lack of gratitude for that al 
ready received ; yet that he would nevertheless 
grant it for her sake:" and so quickly did he 
grant it, that on her return, she found her sou 
willing and hungering after the rejected Food, 
which he soon after received with the most ex-. 
emplary signs of Christian piety. 

A literary man of Cortona was overcome by 
the most headlong despair ; to deliver himself 
from all the miseries into which an untoward 
accident had plunged him, he hung himself by 
a rope attached to a beam in his room. lie 
was almost lifeless when Margaret ran up, called 
thither by her Jesus, and by the aid of her two 
companions led thither for the purpose, she cut 
the rope, and preserved the unfortunate man 
from temporal and from eternal death a benefit 
which rendered him ever after a devout client 
of his great deliverer, and full of affectionate 
confidence in her. Yet she ever showed the 
g-reatest reluctance in admitting men to this con 
fidence, no matter how spiritual they were ; and 
she constantly refused to enter their houses, ho.vrv 
over urgent they might be, or specious the rag* 



THE LIFE OP 



^ Daily experience convinced the Father Gustos, 
Friar Einaldo, that to deliver the most sin-bound 
souls from slavery, there was no surer expedient 
than to induce them to converse even once with 
Margaret; having once toiled in vain to deliver 
one, he one day ordered Margaret to go to his 
house. The most obedient Saint durst not dis 
obey this command, yet not thinking that she 
should yield, she begged first to consult her 
Jesus in prayer. On consulting our Lord, he 
appeared; and praising her highly for the step 
she had taken, in face of the virtuous impulses 
given her, by her zeal for the salvation of that 
soul, and in reward for her virtuous self-restraint, 
he promised to soften that heart at the first word 
she should say on their meeting, and this was 
exactly verified. 

A still more painful command was given her 
by our Lord, after having been received by her 
sacramentally, on the morning of May 5th. The 
church of Arezzo was then governed by a pre 
late, most unfitted for his episcopal duties, seek 
ing only to maintain and extend, by force of 
insolent soldiery, the signorial rights of his dio 
cese ; caring little or naught to banish vice by- 
prayer, good example, and the preaching of 
others. Our Lord, on that day, deploring with 
Margaret such a bishop, enjoined her :n hia 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 89 

name, to warn him frankly of his shortcom.ngs, 
and also to call him to her, to hear from her 
His divine will. For a low woman, his subject^ 
(for Gorton a was in the diocese,) to rebuke a prelate 
so dreaded by all, was a hazardous and difficult 
thing, as Margaret well knew ; hence, she fre 
quently sought to decline it. But our Lord per 
sisted in his expressed will. She had at last to 
rebuke, and summon the Bishop. And well was 
it for him, that with due veneration, he heard 
and fulfilled the command of heaven, given him 
by the lips of the Saint She, at last, told him 
that, the better to prepare to receive from God 
the pardon of his grievous sin, he should not 
defer the solemn opening of the oratory, erected 
by her with the alms of the faithful, near her 
hut, in honor of St. Basil the great; and in this 
too, the contrite and amended Bishop obeyed her. 
But Margaret s zeal aided the people of Gor- 
tona, even more than the prelate. Jesus often 
showed himself armed against them with de 
stroying scourges : to disarm him, she interposed 
most fervent prayers, undertook the most rigor 
ous penances, and so successfully, that she often 
heard him declare, that her mere look saved those 
citizens from the impending chastisements of hia 
just wrath. But that they might not incur again 
the terrible danger of God s anger, she devoted 
8* 



90 THE LIFE OF 

herself with all her zeal to reform the sinful ways 
of a people so dear to her. A fierce civil sedition 
raged in that city, by which, plotting against 
each other s lives, every one expected to be cut 
oft by open violence or secret treachery ; and 
such deaths occurred but too frequently, and 
With the usual consequence, that the blood of 
one enkindled the war more fiercely among 
many more ; hence, the very death of enemies 
gave new life to enmity, and their very dimin 
ution increased it. The endeavors of the better 
disposed citizens, and the authority of the pub 
lic magistrates, urged by Margaret s zealous en 
treaties, had been applied to remove so deadly a 
source of evil ; but all in vain, so that even the 
Saint s great courage began to despair of reme 
dying it. Yet Jesus still urged her to new ef 
forts, saying, that "as he had appointed her the 
way of the desperate, these desperate under 
takings were exactly for her." She, accordingly, 
went on intrepidly, and called in to the great 
work the voice and hand of her friars, especially 
of her zealous confessor Father Giunta. But 
the more these endeavored to calm the wrathful 
minds, the more the devils labored to exasperate 
anger against the promoters of peace ; so that 
Margaret s and Father Giunta s characters were 
assailed with vilest slanders, and they themselves 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 91 

subjected to the most contemptuous treatment ; 
BO that poor Father Giunta, disheartened at being 
unable for days to say a word to Margaret with 
out danger, resolved not only to abandon that 
unfortunate attempt, but even to leave Cortona, 
and like him who said: "We have cared for 
Babylon, and it is not healed, let us leave it ; n 
but Margaret detained him, directed by her Jesus 
to say, that those ungrateful souls had cost him 
too much, and that though ungrateful he had 
not abandoned them : and that as he had pur 
chased the title of Savior by the most bitter con 
fusion, painful sufferings, sweat, and toil, so it 
was to be gained by his followers, rather by the 
sighs of an afflicted soul than by the affliction 
of a weary body, more by the use of patience 
than by the exercise of preaching; and that it 
was his greatest reproach, that his ministers 
sooner lost heart in converting the obstinate, 
than devils did in perverting the devout. Mar 
garet, too, was encouraged by these words ; and 
both pursued more earnestly their patient en 
durance, and their exhortations now animated 
by most fervent prayers, overcome by which, 
Jesus at last declared to her : " Lo. I have heard 
thy prayers, and we will soon reconcile the hith 
erto discordant souls. Thou, O jny daughter, 
art a rose white in inuocence, ruddy in charity, 



92 THE LIFE OF 

whatever thou slialt ask my Father in my name, 
thou shall quickly obtain, and those who have 
recourse to thee for my sake, shall receive spe 
cial grace ; for when thou dost present thyself 
before my Father, all the Seraphim of heaven re 
joice in thy love, because they know that thou shalt 
be one day placed on a throne in their midst." 

Cortona alone was too narrow a sphere for the 
flame of Margaret s zeal ; it extended its con 
quests afar. War, rather than sedition, kept the 
people of Forli in arms against the neighboring 
towns : among these the Bolognese kept in their 
pay a large body of French troops about to enter 
on a deadly conflict. Margaret informed of this, 
more by her Jesus than by public rumor, em 
ployed all the efficacy of her prayers, to avert 
that ruin of souls arid bodies, and restore to 
peace those hostile places : offering to receive on 
herself any blow prepared against them by God s 
provoked justice. God alone knows whether 
her offering was accepted ; what all saw, was the 
perfect reconciliation among them, resulting un 
expectedly from an unforeseen mediation of the 
great Pontiff, Nicholas III. 

For this pope, or his predecessor as some think, 
Margaret by her prayers before God obtained 
another benefit, common to all Christendom. 
The Holy See had issued a bull, by virtue of 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 93 

which, the indulgence of Our Lady of the Angels 
of Portiuncula was tacitly repealed. Our Lord 
expressed his regret to the Saint, and declared his 
intention of punishing severely the one who, 
persuading the Pope to repeal it, had closed on 
the Christian world an asylum, in which, more 
than in any other of those times, lost souls were 
brought back to the way of salvation. She then 
prayed to God, and obtained that another inter 
pretation should be given by the Pontiff himself 
to that prohibition ; so that Jbhe celebrated and 
most desired Pardon of Assisi regained its 
primitive use and credit. Tn promoting this re 
storation, Margaret s zeal sought also to aid Pur 
gatory ; for she had already been assured by her 
Jesus, that the souls there received a most spe 
cial relief from that indulgence. This was not 
her only interest in them; so devoted was she 
ever in remembering them, so constant in pray 
ing for them, that in their frequent apparitions 
to her, they always styled her their most loving 
mother; and Father Giunta mentions many who 
were delivered from those flames by her inter 
cession. I shall merely mention those, who had 
more intimate relations with Margaret, and were 
more special objects of the Divine mercy, which 
for the comfort of sinners, God wished to depend 
go much on Margaret s action. 



94 THB LIFE OF 

In the first year of her conversion, she 
earnestly interceded fur her mother s soul : Jesus 
told her that he was much pleased by her affec 
tion, and that, moved by her prayers, he had 
already received her mother into heaven. He 
said the same at another time of her father, 
adding that he had at first increased his pain f 
that he might the sooner go purged to heaven. 
On the death of her good companion Egidia, 
Margaret learned that in reward not only for her 
great virtue, but also for her services to herself 
she would be placed in heaven in the order of 
Cherubim ; but that she was detained for a time 
in Purgatory in punishment for some over zeal 
ous indignation, in stowing little compassion for 
the failings of others, and rebuking them exces 
sively. To relieve her from this detention, Mar 
garet exerted herself as became her great love, 
and the great obligations she was under to her: 
and a month after saw her joyfully exult in 
heaven amid the Cherubim. 

Three persons had died, but with such appa 
rently bad dispositions, that all supposed that 
they had sunk directly into hell. Yet even for 
these the good Margaret prayed earnestly, and 
on the solemnity of Candlemas she was assured 
by her Jesus, that all three by a triumph of his 
mercy had been condemned only to Purgatory ; 






SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. V5 

and that though the guilt of their many sins de 
manded a long detention in suffering, yet that 
for the sake of her intercession he would detain 
them only twenty-five years. 

Two merchants travelling in a wood were 
killed by robbers : they obtained of God at that 
awful moment the merciful grace of justifying 
their souls by a true act of contrition, but this 
was not so fervent as to free them from all pun 
ishment with the sin. While they were paying 
this last farthing in the prison of Purgatory, 
both sought refuge in Margaret s prayers at a 
moment when she was praying with her usual 
fervor in her hut, and they soon induced the 
compassionate Saint to persuade the relatives 
to satisfy some debts of the assassinated men. 

On the death of the Gustos Father Rinaldo, 
who had given her the Tertiary habit, object of 
so many vows, she endeavored to return the 
benefit by offering up most urgent prayers for his 
holy soul ; but Jesus told her that he had been 
so holy that he went straight to heaven. But 
not so another soul that suddenly appeared 
to her, saying that he suffered horrid pains in 
Purgatory without any relief in punishment, for 
comforts taken in life and too great ease granted 
to the body : that she should intercede for him, 
and warn his wife not to live indolently, unless 
she wished to suffer after death like him. 



98 THE LIFE OP 

She obtained more bountiful grace for her 
benefactors, devoting to their good the tender 
gratitude of her loving heart. As she was con 
stantly receiving greater benefits from the order 
of St. Francis, so she implored greater blessings 
for the whole Seraphic Order ; and he, in regard 
for her, increased their numbers, exalted their 
name, perfected theirspirit, and promised herever 
to retain that precious treasure in his church, 
and as sucli to guard it with special vigilance. 

More apparently, yet no more solidly, sub 
stantial was the blessing which she obtained for 
the Countess Maineria, her first benefactress in 
Cortona ; she obtained for her a constant series 
of afflictions both of soul and body, whereby, 
purged from her faults, weaned from earthly ob 
jects, she was filled with love only for the Cruci 
fied, to that degree that, to liken her more to 
himself and render her scarcely less generous 
than Margaret herself, our Lord granted her to 
wish no satisfaction but that of weeping bitterly 
under the cross. "God forbid that I should 
glory save in the cros,s of our Lord Jesus Christ." 



BAINT MARGAKKT OF CORrONA.. 97 



BOOK II. 
VIRTUES AND GIFTS OF MARGARET. 



CHAPTER I. 

HER HUMILITY. 

WHEN Margaret obtained from her Jesus the 
desired and most prized title of Daughter, her 
Angel Guardian often appeared as if in the act 
of removing every defect from her soul and 
infusing all virtues, commencing with humility 
as the base and support of all others. With this 
too, I begin the second book, in which I collect 
that precious part of her stupendous actions 
which it has been hitherto impossible to relate, 
on account of the uncertainty of the time when 
they occurred. 

That distinct and most vivid knowledge which 
she acquired of her sins, and of the natural facili 
ty of recommitting them, gave her from the 
very outset of her conversion such a self-con 
tempt, that the special favors bestowed on her 
by the most exalted of the denizens of heaven, 
9 



98 THE LIFE OF 

and even by the King of Glory himself, could 
not divert her from it. Thus, notwithstanding 
the general absolution of all her sins given her 
Oy Christ himself, and the assurance he gave her 
of her persevering exempt from any mortal fall, 
she believed and treated herself as the oppro 
brium of the world, the most ungrateful and 
perverse of all creatures. Her benign Saviour 
often seemed to contradict this, but always in a 
way to make her ingenuous humility come forth 
more triumphant and more beautiful. Pierced 
more acutely one day with her great contrition 
for her past and present sins, she fell at the feet 
of her crucifix, and broke forth into these words: 
"Oh that I had never been born, now that I see 
how much I have offended thee, and how little 
I correspond to thy grace!" Her loving Jesus 
did not suffer this wish, which sought to deprive 
him of his predilect spouse, and he suddenly 
complained, saying, that if she would remember 
his mercy to Magdalene the sinner, to Matthew 
the publican, to the thief on the cross, and so 
many others, she would confide more in him. 
" Yes," she replied ; " but there was never child 
of Adam so unworthy of thy gifts as I, or less 
grateful for them." And although Jesus re-as 
sured her, declaring her all covered with his 
graces, and most pleasing in his eyes, she never- 



SAINT MARGARET 01 CORTONA. 99 

theless, firmly persuaded of it, protested that she 
could see no merit in herself worthy of sucb 
condescension on his part; and so true did thw 
aeem, that all the world could not convince her 
of the contrary : indeed, rather than give up this 
opinion, she was ready to accept all the pains of 
hell yawning beneath her feet. Jesus replied 
that, "Not in hell, but in heaven," did he wish 
her, and wish her so near to himself, that he de 
sired her enrolled in the sublime order of the 
highest Seraphim. And hereupon he raised her 
in ecstasy, showing her the lofty throne destined 
for her in heaven. So radiant a sight did not 
dazzle her in the least, or diminish one iota her 
low opinion of herself. Full of shame, and as it 
were of horror, she reminded our Lord, that even 
for a vessel of election like St. Paul, such a 
height would have seemed excessive, how much 
more for her who had been a sink of all iniquity 
and filth 1 hence she implored him not so to de 
base his graces, to esteem more highly his ovrn 
precious gifts. 

Our Lord was so pleased with such constant 
and refined humility, that in recompense he re 
newed all his previous promises, and entered into 
a new contest with her, ordering her hencefor 
ward even in public to style herself solely bj 
the name of his elect daughter. Now indeed 

CULL. CHRIST! REGIS SJ. 



100 THE LIFE OF 

her most humble heart was truly afflicted : yet 
she did not yield, but resisted more earnestly 
and vigorously; and strengthening herself with 
the very arms of her Jesus, she implored him, by 
the very love he bore her, to release her from 
such a command, and even to take from her all 
his outward favors, which could in any way in 
crease her reputation with men. He consented 
Only to the former, declaring that these outward 
marks of his love were necessary for his glory, 
whereby sinners were to be encouraged to re 
turn to him ; that she should, therefore, make her 
own feelings yield readily to the interests of the 
salvation of so many souls. 

Although Margaret finally yielded to these un 
answerable arguments, yet she wished to retain, 
the liberty of using on her side every art to hide 
from others looks, and she ever used it most vigi 
lantly. Whenever she felt enkindling within 
her those flames of love which ravished her to 
ecstatic delight with her Jesus, she eagerly 
hastened to dismiss whoever was then convers 
ing with her, or at least to hide from their sight 
in some solitary corner ; she not only abandoned 
those formulas of self depreciation so dear to 
her, seeing that they returned full of veneration 
ami praise; but even refrained for the same 
reason fi >m her frequent fervent discourse on 



SAINT MARGARET OF ZORTONA. 101 

divine things. This change causing scandal 
rather than admiration in a learned religious, he 
one day asked her the reason. She gave one 
founded entirely on her humility, saying, that 
God might justly deny her those lights and that 
fervor to which she had corresponded so badly. 

The houses which she most studiously avoided 
were those alone in which she was invited and 
received with signs of greater esteem, and the 
persons whom she sought to serve were precisely 
those who thought and spoke worst of her. A 
matron, seeing Margaret change her abode a 
second time, derided her as frivolous, and blamed 
her as talkative; Margaret learned this charge 
from our Lord, and this was enough to induce 
her to seek especially the lady s friendship, and 
to become as a very servant in her house. In a 
word, she received with pleasure every accusa 
tion not tainted with heresy, sought it eagerly, 
truly convinced that she deserved more. 

But the more she sought to depreciate herself, 
the more God exalted her reputation, giving suc 
cess to all her undertakings recommended to 
him by her, hearing the prayers, and fulfilling 
the desires of all who had recourse to her. 
Hence it was that there flocked to her crowds of 
persons of all conditions, even from the remotest 
parts of Europe, to implore her mediation, which 



102 THE LIFE OF 

had proved so favorable with Almighty God. 
But this concourse of revering people became 
*o distasteful to her, that, tears often streamed 
from her eyes, and expressions of great grief fell 
from her lips. And among the old traditions of 
iny country, I may add this too, that my fellow- 
citizens had no small share in giving Margaret 
this affliction. 

There was in the town of San Sepolcro, (a 
city so called from the veneration there paid to 
an exact model of the holy sepulchre of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, composed of more relics 
than even that at Jerusalem,) a child pos 
sessed and so strangely agitated by the infernal 
spirits that three strong, robust men could not 
hold it. The distracted pa rents had it several times 
exorcised : and that the exorcisms might be the 
more aided by their faith, they caused them to 
be renewed in the sanctuaries most famous 
for their frequent liberation of the possessed. 
The infernal spirits always promised to leave that 
innocent body, but only when driven by the 
prayers of Sister Margaret who dwelt in Cor- 
tona. His parents resolved to carry him to Cor- 
tona, a distance of about thirty miles. The 
journey was accomplished safely, but on reach 
ing Castel Gherardo, from which you can descry 
the towers of the fortress of Cortona, those 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 108 

malignant spirits became most perverse, and 
agitated the wretched child most fearfully ; they 
howled with rage, and, determining to go no 
further, so rooted the boy s body to the 
ground, that all the efforts of his stout com 
panions failed to carry him. a step further: till 
suddenly with a fearful howl the leader of those 
demons declared that he would go, as he could 
not stand such proximity to Margaret, whose 
prayers burnt fiercer than the flames of hell. 
In fact he vanished, and with him all the rest of 
that legion. Although the child was thus de 
livered, the exulting parents nevertheless pur 
sued their way to Cortona, wishing to testily not 
only respect but gratitude at Margaret s feet, 
and to show to her and all others their rescued 
son, as a trophy of her triumphs. But ior the 
very reason that it was a great and manifest tri 
umph of Margaret s virtues, she complained bit 
terly, and unable to deny a fact attested by so 
many, she detracted from herself all praise, en 
deavoring to persuade them with tears and ar 
guments that they had all been deceived by the 
false demon ; as it was impossible that she, who 
had served them so well in her early years, could 
now be a terror to them : that she was now more 
wretched than then, as she corresponded less to 
God s grace. Thus did she explain it to these 



104 THE LIFE OF 

astonished people, and to those of Cortona, who, 
soon informed of it, congratulated her upon the 
event. 

But there was none who gave any credit to 
these sentiments of hers but herself, and she 
thought worse of herself even than she said; 
whence she one day received from the very 
mouth of her Jesus this most singular encom 
ium : " vial full of the odor of humility, in 
this is thy humility unlike that of other votaries 
of this virtue, that it does not appear as great 
to the eyes of others as it is truly in your own." 
On another occasion to some humble expres 
sions which she used, he replied : "Thou keopest 
saying, O my daughter, that I have chosen thy 
soul from among all other creatures in the abyss 
of this world, as the vilest of all. I have done it 
that the little may become great, and sinners just, 
and what is vile and detestable, precious and 
rich in my mercy." 

No less gloriously, and with less affliction did 
Margaret expel the evil spirits from a possessed 
girl at the same town of San Sepolcro. This 
girl was held before her by six strong men, and 
while she kept her eyes obstinately turned away 
from Margaret, God revealed to her that it was 
his absolute will that the girl should be 
freed, and appear to all to be freed, by her 



SAINT MARGARET OF COKTONA. 105 

prayers. Unable to oppose this irrevocable 
declaration, she nevertheless executed it as her 
humility prompted ; and that suggested that she 
should place the child on the platform of the 
altar and retire to her cell to pray, hoping that 
the secrecy of her prayer might conceal its 
power- but the devils who felt its force publicly, 
angrily declared that they fled from that body, cast 
out by Margaret s prayers. Oh ! may she drive 
them from all our hearts 1 " Save thy servants 
hoping in thee." 



CHAPTER II. 
HER AUSTERITIES. 

LIKE the low estimate in which she held he: 
self for faults still possible, was the harsh trea - 
ment which Margaret gave herself: the fright- 
fulness of penance having no fairer mother than 
humility, which is no less fruitful in self depre 
ciation than in self-chastisement. She longed 
more to martyrize her body with ill-treatment, 
than a miser does for gold, as Father Giunta 
expresses it; hence, from her first arrival in 
CorVvia, she by a severe prohibition, deprived 



100 THE LIFE OF 

her palate of all taste of meat, all relief of wine, 
after some time she renounced also eggs and 
\rhite meats, and all kinds of fish ; restricting 
her sustenance to a hard crust of bread which 
she begged, to a few almonds, to some cheap 
fruits, but always excluding figs fresh or dry, 
never wishing to taste them for having eaten 
them too immoderately in her daj s of sin. This 
seeming indiscreet to a friend of Margaret, she 
obliged her one day to eat with her some boiled 
cabbage; although Margaret took but very little, 
she felt herself greatly reproved the next night 
by our Lord, who wished her to observe rigor 
ously that universal and just law to afflict more 
with pain what had reveled most in delight. 
" Quantum in deliciis fuit, tantumdem date ei tor- 
mentum." That, without a direct command to 
the contrary by her Jesus, she should continue 
her total abstinence even from boiled herbs. 

In pursuance of the war declared on her body, 
she proceeded to afflict it with armed scourges, 
with sharp cilices, with abridged sleep, and that 
either on the bare ground, or on hard boards, 
covered at best with a plain mat, with no pillow- 
but a rough stone, or dry bundle of hard fag 
ots. And as the disposition of her holy di 
rector, Father Giunta, was most penitent, she 
easily obtained his permission to use the disci- 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 107 

pline till her arm fairly tired, to wear cilices till 
she fainted, to prolong her fasts till she fairly 
was expiring. Jesus compassionately intervened 
to prevent such indiscretion, and he told his 
now sinking penitent that such excesses did not 
please him, and that her confessor deserved 
every punishment for indiscreetly permitting 
them : that she should use restoratives for her 
enfeebled stomach, and a little wine mixed with 
water, and boiled herbs, but without any dress- 
inw. Rendered more cautious by this warning, 
Father Giunta recalled his permission, and 
thenceforward measured all by the discreet 
standard of the most benign heart of Jesus. Yet 
he had no little difficulty in restraining, within 
due limits, the fervent transports of his rigid 
penitent. In the very midst of her trying mala 
dies, she begged him not to improve in the least 
her scanty food, nor alter her great rigor, saying, 
that she should never at any moment of her life 
make peace or truce with her body, which had 
been for so many years in open war with her 
God ; and that her present languor was not such 
as to need either better food, or less severity. 

On one occasion, when her prudent confessor, 
yielding neither to her entreaties, nor her ar 
guments, thought to appease her by saying, that 
on the solemnity of the approaching Easter, she 



108 THE LIFE OF 

should, to obey him, take a little oil to dress her 
ordinary boiled herbs. But soon repenting of 
this condescendence, as of excessive delicacy, she 
burst into a thousand reproaches against her 
body, calling it a crafty traitor, unworthy of be 
lief, a malignant hypocrite, a crafty pretender of 
sickness and languor, to gain compassion and 
indulgence. And she said all this with such 
copious tears and deep sighs, that her body was 
more prostrated by such an excitement, than by 
all her austerities together. Hence, her confessor 
and the physicians, not to aggravate the evils, 
very frequently left her to the discretion of 
her beloved austerities. Badly nourished as 
she was, her trouble was the greater arid more 
trying, as the hunger was more acute that urged 
her to relieve it. Having heard from her Jesus, 
that a soul could never be closely united to him, 
till it was first entirely disengaged from gluttony 
she feared that her natural desire of necessary 
food was the hated vice : and if by no other 
rseans, she would overcome the sin by taking 
as little as possible of her unpalatable food. 
And with every mouthful of this, she breathed 
from her inflamed heart the most loving flames, 
which often made her forget her scanty meal, 
and absorbed her entirely in God. To be able to 
be united to him without restraint, she would 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTC NA. 109 

not permit any one in her cell at the time of the 
meal. Such austerity at last extinguished all 
taste in her palate, and so dried up all vigor in 
her body, that without a miracle, she could hot 
have taken a step, or stood on her feet. Then 
our Lord, according to the promise already made, 
enjoined on her to use better sustenance. She 
jsed it most promptly, because she was sure of 
committing no gluttony, from her total insensi 
bility to taste, now unable to distinguish her new 
and nourishing food from her former insipid 
herbs. 

Even more than her external, did her internal 
penance unnerve and weaken her body. At 
every revolt of her rebellious passions, she re 
pressed them with most violent contrary acts, 
till she was bathed in perspiration, wrung from 
her by the violence she did herself. And that 
no thought of hers should be an incentive to 
awaken these passions, she by a most painful 
effort ever kept her mind raised to God. The 
vocal prayers alone which she recited daily, were 
sc> many and so long, that Father Giunta was 
amazed how she could find time or breath to ac 
complish them. Unvaryingly, she every day 
said all the Canonical hours, and to each added 
forty Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory he to the 
Father. She, moreover, went over all the mys- 
10 



110 THE LIFE OF 

teries of our Lord s passion, beginning with the 
washing of the feet, and in honor of each, re 
cited the Lord s prayer ten times ; she recited as 
many more in reverence for each wounded limb 
of her Jesus, with such tender feelings of com 
passion, with such inflamed sighs, that by the 
very exhaustion of her soul she generally re 
mained as faint and senseless as if actually dead. 
When instructed in the method of mental prayer, 
she began her meditation about midnight, and 
continued it uninterruptedly till Nones, when as 
before related she took her food ; but before at 
taining contemplation, a great part of her de 
vout exercises consisted simply of Pater Nosters, 
but so many that they exceeded a thousand. 

She said three hundred in honor of the Holy 
Trinity ; one hundred for the great Mother of 
God ; a hundred for each of the kindred most 
venerated by her; one hundred for her sins ; a 
hundred for the Franciscan order ; a hundred 
for the people of Cortona; a hundred for those 
who injured her; and many hundreds more for 
the Sovereign Pontiff, for all ecclesiastical orders, 
for sinners, heretics, schismatics, Turks arid Jews. 
And for all these various intentions she con 
tinued through life to pray ardently, at least 
once a day, yet with a great variety of interior 
feelings ; for in praying for all these different 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTINA. Ill 

classes, she felt her heart inundated with hea 
venly sweetness and vigor, which was, however, 
strikingly less when she prayed for the Jews. 

In all these prayers, the words that she uttered 
with her lips were exceeded by the tears that fell 
from her eyes, moistening her garments, bathing 
the floor, and so weakening the body, that she 
often seemed unable to go to church, or return 
home from it. This gift of tears our Lord be 
stowed upon her in the beginning of her con 
version, when he excited that great contrition in 
her heart; and as this continued most vehement 
in her soul, so too continued her copious tears ; 
and though before others she endeavored te re 
strain herself, yet the vehemence of her regret 
overcame every barrier; with this fruit, that all 
who saw her weep, were moved more to detest 
their own sins than to compassionate her: Mar 
garet s tears serving to render her a mirror of 
sinners and fisher of souls. 



CHAPTER III. 
HER CHARITY TO HER NEIGHBOR. 

IT has ever been the mark of the saints to be 
as compassionate towards others, as they are 



112 .THE LIFE OF 

merciless to themselves. And as Margaret s 
harshness against herself exceeded all ordinary 
bounds, so her love of her neighbor was re 
stricted within no usual limits. On hearing fre 
quently enjoined by the lips of Jesus, his strict 
precept: "This is my commandment that you 
love one another as I have loved you. By this 
shall all men know that you are rny disciples, 
if you have love one for another ;" she said that 
there was nothing more pleasing to him than 
this, and was inflamed with fraternal love, like 
her beloved Magdalene. Her naturally affection 
ate disposition, as we remarked in the first chap 
ter, had, even in her years of sin, ever inclined 
her to feel for, and relieve the wants of others, 
adopting for herself the beautiful boast of Job : 
"From my infancy mercy grew up with me, and 
it came forth with me from my mother s womb." 
Job xxx i. 18. But grace greatly extended and 
exalted the charitable instincts of nature. ,. . 

When she began to beg, she distributed among 
the poor the most and best of what she received, 
emboldened by her charity, they annoyingly 
followed her as children would a mother, and in 
crowds besieged her hut, without her displaying 
any feeling, but that of regret at her inability to 
give to their insolent and pertinacious demands; 
and she soon gate so muc : that she had actually 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 113 

nothing to give. The poor furniture with which 
the iwo countesses had fitted up her first hut, 
she gave away .in charity ere many days : re 
maining without a pot to boil water, without a 
board to lie on. Nay, she was often left without 
even the single crust reserved for her own nour 
ishment. She was so sensitive to cold, that even 
in summer she needed fire; yet in the depth of 
winter, in the severest times, she often remained 
without any, giving the poor her stock of wood, 
and even that actually on her own fire. Sho 
even went so far once, as to give a poor shiver 
ing creature some of the rafters of the roofj 
wherewith to warm himself. 

Her neighbors, aware of the utter destitution 
to which her lavish charity to the needy often 
reduced her, in their merciless craving, resorted 
even to violence to drive them from her door, 
but with little profit. For, assailing her in the 
street, or even in church, they actually robbed 
her of all she had. She often on these occasions 
came back with no sleeves to her robe, no veil 
to her head, no cords, beads, or marks in her 
breviary. To several friars this seemed excess, 
and at their instigation her confessor one day 
reproved her ; but taking up her crucifix, she 
justified herself by His example, who was so 
liberal that he had not where to lay his head 
10* 



114 THE LIFE U* 

and gave evsry drop of his blood for us Jesus 
excused her still better by an express command. 
One cold winter she lay grievously ill, with no 
covering but a simple tunic given her shortly 
before as an alms. Jesus revealed to her, that 
there was then in a neighboring city, a poor fa 
ther, burthened with his little family, all shiver 
ing with cold and dying of hunger, without any 
hope of human aid. At this announcement, 
Margaret suddenly forgot her pain, and intent 
on relieving the misery of those hapless 
sufferers, she eagerly asked her God, what she 
could do to relieve them. lie replied, "Send 
them that very tunic;" Margaret instantly obeyed 
and wrapping herself in a torn quilt belong 
ing to her companion, she remained the more 
joyful as she had rendered herself more naked by 
charity. 

Whoever visited her in these, and her other 
frequent infirmities, soon discovered that to make 
her forget her own cruel sufferings, there was no 
better means than to speak of the misfortunes 
of others; for judging in her great compassion 
the evils of others to be greater than her own, 
she lost sight of herself, and was entirely taken 
up in seeking means to reljeve them. Her con 
fessor practicing this course one day, was sud 
denly interrupted by her with these stupendous 



bAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 115 

expressions: " Oh Father 1 if I could relieve the 
hunger and nakedness of so many poor creatures, 
how happy should I be! Fain would I assume 
all their afflictions and calamities in order to ex 
empt them. Ah I teach me some means of conso 
ling this desire, which afflicts me so much." 
And she really assumed no small part of their 
afflictions and calamities. Besides the means 
already described, she had two others for their 
relief. On certain solemnities, but especially on 
that of her beloved protector Sainfc John the 
Baptist, she received into the house given her 
by the Signora Diobelia all the needy of the 
city and district, and treated them to a good 
meal prepared ibr them with her own hands out 
of the alms which she had gathered for that 
purpose the whole year. This same house she 
also converted into a refuge for the forsaken 
sick, whom she nursed night and day with more 
than a mother s care, attending them with more 
than a slave s punctuality. She cleansed with her 
own hands the fetid ulcers of some, the leprous 
scales of others. The piety of the Cortonese, en 
couraged by these examples, enlarged this house 
into a convenient hospital under the title of the 
"Misericordia." 

But far beyond her desire for the relief of the 
bidy, was 1 :r ferven^ charity for the salvation 



116 THE LIFE OF 

of souls. How much this was promoted by he* 
in prayer, how much she contributed by ac 
tion, we have intimated in the preceding chap 
ter and in the twelfth of the first Book. Yet we 
must add, that all these undertakings of Marga 
ret s did not quench the thirst for our souls 
which preys upon our Jesus. To excite her still 
more to labor for the conversion of sinners, he 
more than once thus grieved with her: "Men 
cease not to replace me constantly on the cross, 
and thou dost not think constantly of diminish 
ing the crucifiers; and to enjoy thy beloved sol 
itude, thou leavest rne to writhe beneath their 
blows. Hell constantly robs me of so many 
souls, and thou, rather than forego thy sweet con 
templation, dost see me deprived of souls so dear 
to me. Alt ! run quickly, and by thy example 
show all that I am that compassionate Father 
who welcomes back his most rebellious and con 
tumacious children." 

On the feast of the apostles, Saint Peter and 
Saint Paul, Jesus obliged her to send fora priest 
to warn him of the evil life he led. He came with 
any feeling but compunction, but she admonished 
him with such fervor of spirit, and efficacy of 
words suited to the occasion, as her zeal dictated. 
But as her expressions had none of her usual gen 
tleness and mildness, she afterwards fell into 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTOXA. 117 

the greatest scruples, and full of grief and con 
fusion asked pardon of her Jesus. He appeared 
and composed her mind, telling her that she had 
not been guilty of any excess in that point, but 
that she had indeed committed another fault, 
which had greatly displeased him, and for which 
he wished to rebuke her severely. The defect 
was, that having resolved to keep secret the ad 
monition given to the priest, she broke her reso 
lution, and confided to some others all that had 
passed. At this rebuke from her Jesus, she did 
not lose heart and abandon him, as pusillanimous 
souls do; but she humbled herself, repented, and 
so obtained full pardon. As the holy king David 
obtained it, when he said, " I will confess, against 
myself, rny injustice before the Lord, and thou 
hast forgiven the iniquity of my sin." 

She became thenceforward so circumspect, not 
only in revealing, but in observing and believing 
the defects of others, that when asked or advised 
by others she always answered, " That chnstian 
simplicity sees not, humility believes not, and 
charity reveals not his neighbor s defects." 

Even when our Lord would begin to deplore 
the sins of men, she, unable to deny them, en 
deavored at least to diminish and exculpate them, 
reminding him of the deceit and of the tempta 
tions of the devil, as well as of the weakness of 



1 18 THE L FE OF 

human nature, and finally appealing to his infi 
nite mercy. Thus, while Margaret was once be 
seeching him riot to permit so many thousand 
souls redeemed by him to perish in hell, he 
sternly replied, that their rejection of his calls 
was so scornful, their abuse of his grace so ob 
stinate, that his vengeance required that he 
should hurl his bolts of extermination in their 
midst: and as if about to execute his threat, he 
showed his hand grasping the avenging light 
ning. She interceded with all her power, and at 
last cried to her God, Mercy, so efficaciously, that 
he laid aside the instruments of his judgment, 
and assured her that however malignant and per 
verse sinners might be, if they returned to him, 
he would forget their excesses: "If the wicked 
man shall do penance of all his sins, I will no 
longer remember his iniquities which he has 
wrought," as he had already declared through 
Ezechiel. 



CHAPTER IV. 

HER LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST. 

HERE, indeed, I despair of saying what justice 
demands, and am certain of telling only what is 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. Hi 

true. As there is no conception that is not veri 
fied by Margaret s ardent love for our Savioui 
Jesus Christ, so there is no expression to convey 
it sufficiently. The mere motives common to 
all, but so deeply felt by her, of God becoming 
our Saviour, would have sufficed to lead her to 
love him above all things : arid who can tell to 
what a point so many motives peculiar to her, 
exalted her love for her compassionate, confiding, 
liberal Redeemer? A single one of his benign 
apparitions would have sufficed to inebriate her 
with love for him; how much more must so 
many loving, familiar, continued apparitions 
have inebriated her apparitions in which she 
saw and heard him more frequently than she saw 
her confessor? To what extent they inebriated 
her every one of the following shows. 

No name was more frequent on her lips than 
that of her Jesus: with this she began every 
conversation, with this she blended it, with this 
she concluded it : she could not pronounce it with 
out her face kindling, without shedding tears. 
Whoever sought to recall her from ner languor, 
had but to pronounce with affection the name of 
Jesus: and who would see her rise suddenly 
into a most joyful ecstasy, needed only to begin 
devoutly to speak of her Jesus ; for after a few 
sentences she would be rapt out of herself, ex- 



120 THE LIFE OF 

claiming, panting with love, " Oh my dear Jesua, 
whose power has recalled me to grace, whose 
blood has redeemed me, whose love has united 
me to thee by the bonds of an indissoluble 
charity." 

Her mind was ever revolving the life spent on 
earth by her Jesus. Her meditations, though 
they began with a most humble reverence to the 
Holy Trinity, and a loving invocation of the 
Blessed Virgin, with her other patrons, comprised 
then all his mysteries. She began by his Na 
tivity and went over each down to his Ascension, 
an exercise much praised by Jesus himself, as 
most pleasing to him and salutary to us. On 
days, however, dedicated by the Church to a 
more definite remembrance of any special mys 
tery, she dwelt more particularly on that. One 
Christmas she as vividly represented to herself 
the birth of her Jesus, as if she beheld with her 
eyes the beautiful child: but at the tender and 
joyful imagination, she, contrary to her wont, 
felt hard and disconsolate. This feeling was no 
less unwonted than stupendous and painful. Her 
astonishment ceased, however, when she heard 
the reason given by her Jesus. He told her that 
she was to be singularly like to him ; and as his 
moans and other external pains began on that 
day, so too it became her to moan and suffer on 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 121 

that day in imitation of him a lesson that: ebu kes 
the temerity of those who aspire to solemnize the 
mysteries of a suffering Lord, only with the joy 
ful exultations of glad Thabor. 

On Holy Saturday, all absorbed in the con 
templation of the death and burial of her Jesus, 
he enkindled in her heart feelings like those of 
Magdalene on that occasion. In imitation of her, 
frantic with grief, she now inveighed against the 
cruel men who had crucified him, no\v mourned 
with him that he had allowed himself to be so 
treated : then running breathless and in tears 
through the streets, she begged all to give her 
tidings of her crucified God a question which 
moved all to compunction, for they knew the 
source from which it sprung. This she continued 
till Easter-day, not even relaxing then her dolo 
rous woe: and suddenly overpowered by it, 
while Father Giunta was preaching in the church, 
she interrupted him excitedly, and with a loud 
voice asked him whether he at least could not 
give her some information of her dead Jesus. 
This unseasonable question greatly surprised the 
people no less than the preacher ; but the latter 
discerning the Divine Spirit that filled her, car 
ried away with it too, replied prophetically, that 
in a little while her risen Lord would come to 
inform her a promise that during the rest of 
H 



122 THE LIFE OF 

the sermon kept in calm that loving heart. But 
this very love renewing her agitation, she re 
turned to her frantic state, her sighs, her lamen 
tations, and so continued all that day and the 
next night, till the dawn of day ; when the risen 
Sun at last appeared joyful and glorious, and 
after a long colloquy sweetly told her that her 
endeavors to find him had not yet reached the 
greater ones employed by Magdalene. 

Her daily endeavor had but one ooject, to be 
come a living copy of her Jesus; and seeing that 
from the first moments of his mortal life he had 
chosen as his inseparable companions extreme 
poverty, excruciating pain, contempt, and op 
probrium, she too, to imitate him, desired evei 
to be attended by this sad company. Aspovertj 
depended entirely on her own choice, she resolved 
to feel every hard effect; so that her pitying 
Angel Guardian once corrected her for her indis 
cretion. She despoiled her cell till she left not 
a stool to rest upon, a board to sleep on, nor a 
particle of covering; and this generous self-pri 
vation which she practiced by distributing all to 
the poor, was not so much an instinct of compas 
sion to relieve the suffering, as a desire to liken 
herself the more to her most poor Jesus. 

There were devout persons, who, seeing her so 
neglectful of her wants, resolved to provide for 



SAINT MARGARET OF COR1ONA. 123- 

her, and by their abundant aid make war on hei 
poverty ; but she avoided it, either by not re 
ceiving into her house their charitable gifts, (a 
by at once sending them as an alms to those 
more destitute than herself. And she so persisted, 
pleaded so well, that Father Giunta at last re 
voked the order given by him to a pious lady to 
provide her daily with her ordinary food ; for 
she was bent on living like any other poor out 
cast trusting solely to Divine Providence. 

She panted for pain and opprobrium as so 
many relics consecrated by the touch of her 
Jesus ; and the more she obtained of him, the 
more in her thirst she implored. But we have 
already spoken of this and will return to it again, 
as well as show by particular instances her 
prompt generosity in fulfilling the most difficult 
command enjoined upon her : ever keeping her 
hand ready for the work as a proof of the loyal 
love of the heart : Probatio dilectionis exhibitio 
est operis, as the great Pope Saint Gregory says. 

The very saints in heaven were dear to her 
only as they held her Jesus dear ; and the more 
they had prized him the dearer they were to her. 
This wns the motive of her burning love for 
Mary : this the attraction of that special tender 
devotion to all the Holy Family, to Saint Mafy 
Magdalene, to the holy apostles, Sairt Peter,. 



124 THE LIFE OP 

Saint Paul, and Saint John, and the otner sainta 
whom we will enumerate. To her devotion, not 
less than to that of the fervent Saint Bernard, 
" all food of the soul is dry, if not moistened w.ith 
this oil; insipid, if not seasoned with this salt. 
If you write, I relish it not unless I read Jesus 
there : if you dispute or instruct, I like it not 
unless Jesus sounds there. Jesus is honey in the 
mouth, melody in the ear, joy in the heart." Her 
very corporeal life, according to its different re 
lations to the love of Jesus, was now joyful, now 
sorrowful. She desired death to be able to love 
him more ardently in heaven: she rejoiced to live 
to dispose herself to love him eternally with more 
ardor in heaven ; and whether she desired to die 
or rejoiced to live, she had naught in view but 
to transform herself more and more into her 
Jesus, the sole object of her love, the only aim 
of her sighs, the only centre of all her satisfac 
tion, to whom she was so closely bound, that like 
Saint Paul she frequently repeated: "That 
neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor Princi 
palities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor 
things to come, nor strength, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any creature can separate us from the 
love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Jesus once asked her: " If on a dark night 
thou atoodest alone in a solitary wood, infested 



(SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 125 

by ferocious beasts, the haunt of fierce robbers, 
I should call thee to me, how wouldst thou come 
amidst these horrors?" "Not only would I 
come to thee," she repl ied, " but I would fly to 
thee like a loving child, who rushing too swiftly 
to the bosom of the beloved mother that calls it, 
falls and faints ; and if on falling I should weep, 
I should merely weep that I do not reach thee 
more quickly." 



CHAPTER V. 

HER DEVOTION TO THE PASSION OF CHRIST. 

EQUAL to the love of her most inflamed heart 
for Jesus, was the affectionate compassion for his 
sufferings; revealed as clear to her enlightened 
rnind with the attractives of the one, the incen 
tives of the other. In the beginning of her con 
version, the crucifix alone was the only book 
suggested to her by the Holy Ghost, afterwards 
confirmed by a special command of Jesus him 
self, in which she was to learn at once those two 
most opposite excesses, God s love for her and 
her ingratitude to God. 

With the first glance which she fixed upon it, 
11* 



126 THE LIFE OF 

she learned them so vividly that she inflamed 
Father Giunta, already moved by the facts re 
lated in the first book, with intense love of God 
and hatred of self. Fain would she have pined 
away in loving, and died to avenge him. And 
to avenge him she was not satisfied with the 
scalding tears that constantly streamed from her 
eyes, nor with the bitter repentance that wasted 
away her heart ; she wished to shed blood for 
him who had shed so much for her sake, and 
open as many wounds in her body as her faults 
had opened in him. Hence from the first the 
sight of the crucifix led her to pitiless austeri 
ties against herself; she tore her garments, she 
rent her hair, she beat herself with her clenched 
hands, she bruised herself with stones, she 
scourged herself with ropes, she smote herself 
with iron rods, as each came readiest to her hand. 
As she spent all Friday in regarding more fixedly 
her outraged God, so she spent it in more harshly 
treating herself; and this, she said, ought to be 
the practice of every Christian on that day. 

But as she wounded herself from head to foot, 
seeming to herself not to suffer what a just re 
turn to him required, she besought him to equal 
her pains to his. And he, who desired naught 
but to make her a perfect copy of his own Pas 
sion, often consoled her by a liberal cornmunica- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 127 

tion of his sufferings. This happened once pub 
licly. Jesus once commanded her that she should 
pass the whole of the next day in the church of 
the friars; and having obtained her confessor s 
consent, she was fulfilling it intent on under 
standing and compassionating the pains of her 
Crucified Love, and her compassion reached such 
a degree as to approach that experienced by the 
Mother of dolors at the foot of the cross. With 
soul and body rent by such bitter grief, she burst 
forth into deep sighs, and copious tears, and 
saddest exclamations. Her face grew pale, and 
she was about to fall faint and lifeless, when some 
pious ladies ran up at her cry, and while they 
supported her in their arms her pain at heart 
increased, and with it the pallor of her counte 
nance ; she inclined her head and seemed to 
breathe her last sigh. 

And so she was supposed to be really dead 
by all around; the sad news soon spread through 
the city, and crowds of the people flocked to 
the church to verify it; all deemed her dead, 
and all bitterly deplored her loss. When Ves 
pers sounded she was seen to move slightly, and 
a little after, with eyes fixed on heaven, was 
heard joyfully thanking her Jesus for having 
made her experience in soul and body such a 
martyrdom. But this joy soon gave place to 



128 THE LIFE OF 

another martyrdom no less afflicting to her 
humility ; for returning to the use of her senses, 
and seeing herself surrounded by such a crowd 
of spectators, she was ready to die for confusion 
But nevertheless she still thirsted and panted 
for a greater participation in her crucified Lord s 
sufferings. If he allowed her to suffer by 
disease, be harassed by demons, persecuted by 
men with vile insults, infamous words, cruel 
abandonment, it was only to appease her thirst 
for partaking in every form of the pains of his 
body, the anguish of his soul, the wrong done 
his good name. So he attested more than once, 
and more than once did she thank him for it. 

One Saturday in the beginning of August, 
discovering in a clearer light the great merit of 
ever living beside the cross of Christ, a devout 
impulse led her to ask her beloved Magdalene 
why she had yielded on Calvary to the fury of 
those executioners, and allowed them to remove 
her in the least from that blessed cross ; protest 
ing that if she had been opposed by all the mon 
sters of hell, she would not have feared and so 
lost that dear post, but would rather have let 
them take her life and tear out her soul. 

Whenever she saw any body more suffering, 
or heart more afflicted than her own, full of im 
patience lest others in that way should getaearer 



SAINT MABGARET OF CORTOtfA. 129 

to the cross of her Jesus, she complained dia 
cousolately to .him, protesting that she wished 
to feel unitjd in herself all the evils scattered in 
other men ; because as she more than all the 
rest had fastened him to the cross by her sins, 
she more than all the rest should alone approach 
nearest to his cross. A protest that, one day 
after Epiphany, she thus confirmed: "I am 
ready, O Lord, to swear, if thou pcrmittest, that 
during all rny life I care not ever to enjoy any 
consolation of the spirit ; for I desire ever to 
feel my heart sad and disconsolate like thine." 
Then turning to the Blessed Virgin, she said, 
"Mother of my Lord, it is true, that I am not 
worthy even to raise my eyes to thy Son, cruci 
fied for me; but yet he has so ravished my affec 
tions that I cannot stop until I am perfectly 
united to him. Ah! divide his great pains with 
me, and grant that I may ever bitterly bewail 
them witli thee." 

The Son and mother heard her promptly, so 
that she remained more than usual in her regular 
meditation on the Passion, which she prolonged 
from midnight till Prime ; and during the whole 
time she experienced in her heart the sadness, and 
in her body the pains, of her suffering Jesus, and 
of dolorous Mary, with such intense sentiments of 
comr>as?ion that actual tears of blood streamed 



130 THE LIFE OP 

from her eyes, as many eye witnesses attest happen 
ed on other occasions also. To promote in her thia 
sentiment of compassion and these bloody tears, 
Jesus appeared to her all wounded, assuring her, 
that while she clung to his cross, he would 
shower on her graces as plenteous as the blood 
that he shed upon the cross, and that she would 
have obtained still more abundantly had she ap 
proached nearer in mind and heart to him on 
the cross ; concluding that his Passion and 
wounds were the shortest path to attain perfec 
tion, the most potent shield to ward oft every 
javelin of hell ; that she should enter upon it, 
and hide herself secure in his wounds, and pene 
trate more into his side. 

To animate her still more, he appeared to her 
one day, as it were crucified, inviting her to 
touch his wounds with her hands ; an invitation 
from which in her humility she shrunk, declar 
ing herself most unworthy to look upon and still 
more to touch even the nails. He renewed it with 
expressions of love ; then taking his hands from 
the cross, he opened his side to show her his 
wounded heart, saying, that he kept her ever 
engraven there, and that she should enter freely 
as into her own secure and stable asylum. De 
sirous of this, Margaret breathed from her soul 
such ardent sighs that her very soul seemed 



, SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 131 

waited on them, leaving her body faint and mo- 
tionlojj, while she was absorbed in a most joy 
ful echtKsy. Two things especially we know 
that her Jesus taught her : one that his wounds 
were the source of all the blessings of Christ! 
anity, to which she should recur for all she might 
need for her own advantage or that of others ; 
and the othti ihat the love of Mary, his mother, 
was so inflamed, that to be likened to him, and 
save the human, race, she would most readily 
have been cruciCod beside him. 

As these two lessons increased in Margaret a 
zeal for souls, so it inflamed anew her devotion 
to her crucified Lord ; towards whom she mul 
tiplied her acts ot devotedness, and increased her 
love, so that she not only lived nailed with him 
to the cross, but even desired to die crucified 
with him. Our Saviour once asked her : " Daugh 
ter, dost thou really love rne ?" "Ah ! Lord, she 
replied, "no, I do not love thee as I desire." 
"And how dost thou desire to love me?" "To 
love thee so much as to die of pure compassion 
for thy sufferings." "But I can so sweeten such 
a death, that thou wilt expire of joy and not of 
pain." "Ah no, Lord, I wish it not so sweetened, 
but full of bitterness like thine." " Wouldst 
thoubecontert to die like my Apostle Andrew?" 
" Oh I would die how and when it pleases thee, 



132 THE LIFE OF" 

but let my executioner be compassion for thee 
crucified for my sake." Then our Lord asked, 
11 whether she wished to experience what lie en 
dured in the bloody sweat in Gethsemane." But 
she, who wished to try them all, could make no 
reply to the offer of a single one. But he as 
sured her, that it was so fearful that human mind 
could never conceive, much less feel it in sym 
pathy. 

Having received communion on the feast of 
St. Mark, she beheld a cross coming to her. She 
at once extended her hands and feet to fit herself 
to it, and in fact laid herself on it as if crucified, 
but then seeing that she was not, she said mourn 
fully to her Jesus, who then appeared to her 
nailed on his cross : "Ah ! Lord, why can I not 
be nailed to the cross like thee ?" " Thy nails," 
he replied, "shall be the continual troubles which 
shall pierce thee, and which thou shalt hence 
forth welcome the more gladly, magnanimously 
rivaling my Apostle, who exultingly says: I 
will glory in my infirmities." 

He animated her still more to this on the feast 
of Saint Mary Magdalene, when he appeared to 
her as he rosa. showing Magdalene his five 
wounds, ruddy with fresh blood, saying, that if 
she loved him as much as she asserted, she would 
still constantly bear every blow and torment. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 133 

To increase to this point Margaret s ten Jernesa 
and compassion for the Crucified One, the holy 
angels also co-operated by a rebuke. One day 
after the feast of th* Prince of the Apostles, two 
of them appeared to her, full of exultation at 
having driven from the air a dense storm cloud 
of malignant spirits, and while they related the 
fierce conflict that they had had, she saw before 
her eyes a luminous circle, within which was 
another anjiel, as it were, crucified ; and she, not 
understanding this mystery, asked of them an 
explanation, and she was at once answered by 
one of them : " If thou hadst a son thus wounded, 
wouldst thou not be busied night and day around 
him, healing his wounds and alleviating his suf 
ferings? And yet thou dost not for thy Lord 
Jesus, so wounded for thee." This reproof 
wounded her deeply; and she ceased to profit by 
it only when she ceased to live. That we may 
adopt that amendment of life, so much more in 
cumbent on us as our guilt is greater, oh ! may 
she enkindle in our hearts at least one spark of 
her great love for Jesus crucified. 

Jnxta crucem tecum stare, 
Te libentcr sociare, 

In planctu desidero. 
Fac me verc teciim flere ; 
Cnicifixo condolere, 

Donee eg O vixero. 
12 



134 THE LIFE OF 

Let me mingle; tears with thee 
Mourning 1 Him wlio mourned for nie, 

All the days that I may live ; 
By the cross with thee to stay ; 
There with thee to weep and pray ; 

Is all 1 ask of thee to give. 



CHAPTER VI. 
HER DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED SACRAMENT 

No other benefit rendered her Jesus so dear to 
Margaret, as that of the most august Sacrament ; 
because by this most stupendous gift alone, she 
saw her worst pains removed, and her greater 
joys conferred. Her inconsolable grief sprang 
solely from knowing, that she was no less full of 
obligations to God, than incapable of correspond 
ing to them : now she knew by faith that, by 
virtue of this gift, she paid not only fully, but 
exorbitantly, all her debts to God ; " in Him we 
are all made rich," as the Apostle Paul says. 
Words cannot express how this consideration 
inflamed her heart to Jesus, who had enriched 
her at such an expense. 

One day t-here rose before her mind all the im 
mense titles, which the Almighty has to supreme 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 135 

honor from us, and the fire of her most obedient 
heart burned with a thousand desires ; fain would 
she have possessed all hearts to pay him a tribute 
proportioned to his love, to possess every life 
so as to sacrifice all to him in satisfaction for 
her faults, when she heard an interior suggestion 
that she paid a greater homage to God by a single 
Mass ; because by means of that divine victim 
sacrificed for her, she offered God an infinite 
honor, of which he is worthy, rendered him an 
infinite thanksgiving which he deserved, paid 
him an infinite satisfaction, greater than his out 
raged justice can exact. Reviewing this as most 
certain and undoubted by the light of faith, as it 
afforded her unspeakable consolation, so she 
studiously profited by it, hearing every day, for 
all these ends, all the masses celebrated at the 
church of her friars, and assisting also in inten 
tion at all those celebrated throughout the whole 
world, particularly in the sanctuaries of the Holy 
Land. 

The Holy Land was always the object of her 
desire, and to be able there to imprint her kisses 
on that happy land, consecrated by the tears of 
her Jesus, bathed with his sweat, sanctified by hia 
blood; but then reminded by faith, that in the 
Catholic Church she had her Jesus, not passing 
and transitory as in Palestine, but stable and 



186 THE LIFE OP 

permanent, oh ! how she melted, she rejoiced. 
Never did Christian pilgrim exult with such 
gladness, or rejoice with devotion, at the sight of 
those sanctuaries, as Margaret when near the 
venerated Ciborium ; after remaining there as 
near as possible motionless in body, she kept her 
heart fixed upon him to bless, love, and thank 
the great Divine guest. There she ever seemed 
to hear from his lips that loving invitation : 
" Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy 
burthened, and I will refresh you." She recurred 
to it in all her troubles, with it she relieved all 
her bitterness, she consulted it in her doubts, 
she implored help in her difficulties; and to ob 
tain it surely, she offered him in intention all the 
honor, reverence, supplications, made constantly 
to him by the attendant angels, with whom she 
protested that she was ever united, substituting 
them in her stead to honor him in the tabernacles. 
But her greatest delight was to receive within 
herself this Divine guest; and to this reception 
she. brought that train of heroic virtues, with 
which her beloved Magdalene received him in 
her own house ; and like her, she ever derived 
the greatest fruits. His richest gifts, his most 
intimate colloq.uies, his most loving expressions, 
Jesus bestowed at the time of Communion, when 
he invariably raised her into a most joyful ecs- 



SAINT MARGARK l OF COKTONA. 137 

tasy, and admitted her to so sublime an under- 
standing of the divine secrets, that, as Jesus once 
expressed it, they would never be understood 
by men, nor ever known. Being sick once on 
the octave of a feast of Our Lady, her good Fa 
thers carried Communion to her ; and she, hear 
ing it, conceived such joy, that, in spite of her 
excruciating pain, she broke forth in a long and 
most sweet laughter, which her Lord, when she 
had received him, increased, saying: "As thou 
art weak and afflicted with evils, rest your head 
on the pillow, and thus supported, hear me. 
Thou art my little plant, planted by me in the 
garden of my love, that is, the order of thy 
Blessed Francis : a new gift is granted thee by 
my Father, whereby thou, little plant, shalt bud 
forth new branches, and extend over all ; whence 
waters of mercy may flow sufficient to irrigate 
the dry plants of the world. 

Such delicious joy saddened greatly her ex 
cessive humility. She had often heard her 
Jesus inculcate the cleanness of heart required 
by him in whoever went to receive him in his 
Sacrament, and thinking herself all unclean and 
defective she often kept aloof. She was accus 
tomed to confess daily; but when Father Giunta 
was not at hand, she confessed to a priest less 
confiding and more repulsive, but as withal she 
12* 



138 THE LIFE OF 

did not seem to attain due cleanness of heart, she 
durst not communicate; and though Father 
Giunta urged her nevertheless to receive, she very 
often refused, and refused in this only. 

While thus reluctant, her Jesus often showed 
himself, appearing visibly to encourage her to 
feed on his flesh, calling her his Daughter, or his 
Beloved, or Immaculate Soul. Ever resolute and 
desirous of being united, he often obliged her by 
an express command to sit down at that blessed 
Table, and at last even to receive daily. The hum 
ble Saint yielded at last, and notwithstanding the 
reluctance of her ever timid humility, she enjoyed 
the delight of daily welcoming her Jesus in his 
Sacrament. 

Her preparation was long, beginning in her 
eel) at midnight, and continuing in the church 
till near mid-day ; yet it was less long than fer 
vent and devout; for, as she was wont to say, the 
streets through which the body of Jesus passed 
should be paved with the purest gold, that that 
sacred Body might thus be honored by us and 
welcomed, as much as it was slighted and mal 
treated by the impious Jews. This honor and 
reverence towards him was, she said, precisely 
one* of the principal aims of the institution of 
that great Sacrament. Hence, though she com 
municated with such good dispositions, she wag 



SAINT MARGARKT OF CORTONA. 139 

seized in that action with such great i ear that 
she trembled in every limb, so that those near 
ran up to support her. She wondered herself 
and grieved at such alarm ; but Jesus said that 
if the angels trembled out of respect in his pre 
sence, it behooved her to tremble. 

She performed various outward acts for greater 
reverence : she took the veil off her head, she 
put a rop e around her neck, and approached all 
bathed in most devout tears ; but unwilling to be 
observed by others, she was accustomed to com 
municate in a retired spot, and after the High 
Mass. 

One morning however, on a feast of the Blessed 
Virgin, her desire for Communion increased so 
much, that, beside herself and unconscious of the 
great number present, she burst into most pite 
ous and inflamed ejaculations, praying and ob 
taining of her confessor permission to receive 
before the usual time. Nor could her desire out 
be most vehement, while she so frequently heard 
from the lips of Jesus himself, singular encom 
iums of that Divine Food, and the special fruits 
which it produced in those who worthily receive 
it. 

She often bewailed, with her Jesus, the irrev 
erence continually offered him by ungrateful 
Christians; but as this lamentation always in- 



140 THE LIFE OF 

flamed her with zeal against the irreverent, it, at 
the same time, awoke her fear, that she might be 
included among them ; and, while she once de 
tested their irreverence with excessive grief, she 
heard her Jesus rebuke her in these sharp words: 
" Thy excessive lamentation and bewailing of 
thy imperfections offend me with real venial 
sins ; it is enough to accuse thyself in confession, 
and then remain in peace and receive the Sacra 
ment." Beautiful declaration for devout, but 
timid souls, who not unfrequently, by too great 
self-torment for their faults, render themselves 
more defective and guilty, thus incurring the 
very fault that they abhor ! 

During the years of Father Giunta s absence 
from Cortona, she went to regeive communion in 
the church of St. George, where she was often 
tempted to abstain, from seeing the Blessed Sac 
rament so irreverently handled by the undevout 
pastor; but Jesus would not consent, assuring 
her, that to enter her breast, he did not disdain 
to come into such hands, and that he deemed 
himself compensated by her reverence for the 
priest s ill-treatment : she accordingly received, 
no less for the comfort of her spirit than for the 
restoration of her body. 

And in fact, if her body, exhausted by so many 
torments, afflicted by so many e rils, maintained 



SAINT MARGARET OP CORTONA. 141 

withal sufficient strength for so many laborious 
undertakings, this, as all who conversed with her 
deemed, was rather an effect of that vital food, 
than of her most scanty nourishment. This was 
evident to all in the last days of her mortal life, 
when for nearly three weeks, she sustained life, 
though receiving no food, but simply Holy Com 
munion. Hence, that stupendous freedom from 
corruption, with which her fair and fragrant 
body has been preserved for over four centuries, 
was clearly a fruit of that Divine Sacrament, in 
stituted, as the Angelic Doctor says, to give life 
to the body also, prolonging by its power the 
days of her passible life, and eternalizing those 
of her glorious life, according to the promise of 
our Saviour : " I have come, that they may have 
life, and have it more abundantly. The bread 
which I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the 
world. Whoso eateth this bread, shall live for 
ever." Let him then who aspires to enjoy his 
bodily strength, and pass prosperously and in 
health the days of his corruptible, earthly life, 
use more devout communions and less ease and 
delight. 



142 THE LIFE OF 

C II AFTER VIT. 
HER DEVOTION TO MARY. 

LOVE for Mary is so blended with love of Jesus 
in every Christian heart, that the increase of one 
is an expansion of the other. As no human 
tongue can ever express Margaret s love for Jesus, 
so it cannot attain her love for Mary. Although 
Jesus himself was the instructor and master of 
Margaret in all virtues, he inculcated none more 
earnestly than love for his beloved Mother. To en 
kindle her love still more, he frequently showed 
how she is now the August Queen of heaven. 
One day after communion Margaret heard from 
Jesus : " My daughter, I wish thee every day to 
pay some special reverence to my Mother, and to 
endeavor to the best of thy power, to cause her 
to be revered, and honored by others also : she 
being most worthy of all honor." And with 
similar expressions he usually concluded his 
most confidential colloquies, which he daily had 
with her. Surely, a single command of her 
Jesus would have sufficed to inflame Margaret 
with love for the most loathsome monster ; how 
much must she have been inflamed, by his express 
and reiterated commands, towards an object in 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 143 

comparably more amiable than any other created 
being? 

One day while she was in prayer, Jesus ap 
peared to her with this most gracious offer: 
" My daughter, behold, I give and show thee my 
Mother." And immediately the Blessed Virgin 
stood before her in a majestic and beautiful form. 
From so radiant a sight the humble Margaret 
soon diverted her gaze, declaring in her admi 
ration, that she was too impure for the fair Mo 
ther of purity to deign to visit. Jesus so ap 
proved her admiration, that he soon broke forth 
into this expression : "My daughter, my Father 
loves thee, and my Mother also loves thee ; and 
thou art worthy to enjoy more fixedly her coun 
tenance. Look then on my Mother who bears 
thee especial love." 

Another time she was borne in ecstasy towards 
a most splendid throne environed by the noblest 
Seraphim, who supported their great Queen 
seated on it. Margaret blushed to see herself so 
elevated, and sweetly complained to her Jesus. 
He replied that he had raised her up, so that she 
might, with greater familiarity and confidence, 
gaze upon his Mother. Then Margaret pro 
strated herself at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, 
and told her that Jesus alone was the author of 
her temerity, and that he had transported her 



144 THE LIFE OP 

thither. "And I," replied Mary, " I welcome thee 
as my daughter, and as such I shall ever keep thee 
commended earnestly to God." A t th is loving wel 
come, at this ample promise of Mary s, Margaret 
did not expire of joy ; either because her spirit 
was then separated from the body, or because, if 
it was united to the body, it was united to hea 
ven, where death has no power to separate. 

She continued long thus in colloquy with 
Mary, by whose words she felt inexpressibly 
consoled, so that she deplored her having never, 
till then, tasted the sweet comfort of her conver 
sation ; assigning as a reason that she had, till 
that day, been ever immersed and lost in her 
dear Jesus. Then Mary said to her : " My 
daughter, who seeks rny beloved Son, seeks me 
also; and who possesses him, possesses me also." 
Margaret understood the full meaning of these 
words : hence, the better to find Mary, she sought 
Jesus the more earnestly, and sought to attain 
Jesus, the better to possess Mary, convinced that 
no other homage would be so pleasing to Mary, 
as a love for Jesus, constantly increasing in fer 
vor. And in this persuasion, Mary confirmed 
her more clearly in another radiant apparition, 
when, as Margaret implored her to obtain every 
powerful aid for her sinful soul, as she called it, 
Mary, with a smiling and loving countenance, re- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 145 

plied: "I receive thee and thy prayers, with 
most special affections, for the great love thou 
hearest my Son." 

But Jesus was not satisfied with this mere re 
verence for his Mother: hence, he frequently en 
joined upon her to repeat the angelic salutation 
as far as the words, "Blessed is the fruit of thy 
womb." She did it frequently every day, and 
our most benign Lady corresponded with fre 
quent graces, accustomed to repay the slightest 
reverence by the greatest favors, as St. Peter 
Damian says.* 

One day when she was excessively afflicted. 
her Guardian Angel comforted her by sweetly 
intoning the " Hail Mary," and such was the con 
solation that she would have wished to die, so as 
to soar with him to the presence of Mary, and con 
tinue forever in the company of the angels that 
reverent salutation. Hence, she asked her Guar 
dian Angel how much of her exile still remained. 

It lasted for years, and she compensated for 
their tedious length by exactly imitating the An 
gelic Spirits, in addressing Mary with greater 
reverence, and serving her more devoutly. And 
although this was her daily exercise, neverthe- 

* Maria, cum sit fidclissima, solet maxima pro minimis re- 
pendere. 
13 



THE LIFE OF 

less, she enieavored to fulfil it better on days 
consecrated to her ; when she bent her whole 
mind to contemplate Mary s greatness more at 
length, and her whole heart was inflamed with 
most ardent affection. But as the affections of 
her heart were not as great as she saw Mary s 
merits, hence, in compensation, she offered to 
Mary the love which she bore herself; and the 
better to supply her deficiencies, presented to her 
the still greater love borne her in our name by 
our common Surety, her Divine and only Son, 
Jesus. This exercise usually won for her a most 
gracious visit from the Son and the Mother. 

Lying once in bed dangerously ill, she was 
terrified by the anguish of approaching death, 
and the rigors of the menacing judgment. Her 
confessor cheered her with the hope of having 
as her supporters in those trials the saints in 
heaven. At this word heaven, her heart was in 
undated with such joy, that she was suddenly 
rapt into a most joyful ecstasy, in which she 
beheld Mary earnestly imploring her Son to take 
her from all these dangers, and introduce her 
speedily into eternal repose, and Jesus granted 
all to his Mother. This sight not only banished 
all fear from her heart, but encouraged her to 
ask that very dreadei death, confident with St. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 147 

Ephrem, that " he will never hear the eternal 
woe for whom Mary has even once prayed."* 



CHAPTER VIII. 

HER DEVOTION TO THE ANGELS. 

THE liberal condescension of Jesus and Mary 
to Margaret, gained her the most lavish favors 
from the angelic spirits. While she was pray 
ing at the usual hour, on the night before the 
feast of St. Clare, an exalted Seraph appeared, 
beautifully adorned with six splendid wings, and 
conversed long with her on spiritual matters; 
this so gladdened her that all that night she could 
not withhold her laughter ; and it so inflamed 
her with love of God, that her radiant face and 
form seemed those of a Seraph : hence, on re 
counting the circumstance to her confessor, she 
begged him never to mention that blessed angel 
in public, because the very remembrance re 
kindled those outward flames, which she wished 
never to be seen or perceived by any living being. 

The same Seraph, or another, appeared in the 

* JEternum vie non sentiet, pro quo vel semel oraverit Maria. 



148 THE LIFE OF 

same form, on the night of the second Sunday 
of Advent. Margaret seeing him with the hand 
raised in the act of blessing, called her compan 
ions, that they too might enjoy that angelic bene 
diction ; but although, when they came, they 
beheld nothing, she saw such great things as en 
tirely to ravish her soul from her body, leaving 
it as if dead, in the arms of those astonished 
women: among whom happened to be Signora 
Isotta di Bacialla. That gracious Seraph left 
two gifts, greater fervor of charity in heart, and 
greater perspicacity of mind to understand the 
divine attributes, as Margaret s Angel Guardian 
informed her. 

Their very prince, St. Michael, appeared to her 
frequently; among other occasions in the month 
of June, in the feast of SS. John and Paul, Jesus 
and Mary having appeared to her, escorted by 
most beautiful angels, she saw one more radiant 
than the rest; and having asked our Lord who 
he was, he replied that it was Saint Michael, 
prince of his heavenly court, most fervent of all 
in loving him, and consequently most disposed 
to receive and fulfil his orders. This very pre 
rogative in loving her Jesus more ardently, and 
attending him more closely, rendered the holy 
angel 3 extremely dear to Margaret, and vene- 
by her; she frequently invoked iheir names. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 149 

visited their altars, multiplied in their honor 
homage to God, violence to herself: and above 
all, she emulated their ardent charity, their can 
did affection. 

One day considering this spotless candor, she 
asked her Jesus, who just then appeared, whether 
those most pure spirits withdrew from impure 
and wicked souls ? He replied, that in spite of 
their great hatred to all obscenity, the angels 
nevertheless imitated his mercy ; and as this never 
withdrew the aid of his grace from sinners to touch 
and amend them, so the angels never deprived sin 
ners of their presence to bring them to penance, 
ill repaid as they so often were. Margaret was 
amazed at this constant love, and conscious of 
having for so many years enjoyed and betrayed 
them, she wept bitterly, and promised tocoire- 
spond in future with the most exact fidelity to 
all their inspirations. 

As she received most constant favors from her 
Angel Guardian, so she entertained the most ten 
der affection for him. She had scarcely retired 
to her first hut in Cortona, when he began to 
appear visibly to her, and on her first colloquy 
with him during an unsuccessful night medita 
tion, he encouraged her with the assurance that 
Jesus in his mercy had not only introduced her to 
the most sublime contemplation, but had al?oad 
13* 



150 



THE LIFE OF 



mitted her to the most confident intimacy with 
his sacred humanity a promise that filled her 
with joy and strength. In a longer colloquy at 
Christmas, he explained minutely the loving de 
vices by which God in his mercy had rescued 
her from the infernal wolf, and led her back to 
penance. The sanctifying grace given to jus 
tify her after her repentance and confessions, he 
styled the precious ring with which Jesus had 
espoused her, and so miraculous a ring that it 
may be compared to the stupendous rod of 
Moses ; for as that wrought so many wondrous 
things against Egypt, so grace abiding in her 
effected all those prodigies of austerity, humil 
ity, and charity for the destruction of hell. To 
preserve and increase it, as well as to unite her 
more closely to God, and more generously to the 
cross, Margaret showed herself ready to obey, 
imploring his assistance and suitable vigor to 
correspond to a God so merciful and benigrr to 
her. 

Margaret one day desired to be enabled to dis 
cern certainly the perfect friends and elect of 
God : her holy angel appeared, and she asked 
of him the true signs; he kindly replied that 
they were no other than to have the heart dis 
engaged from all that is created, and fixed on 
God alone, to vhorn they should constantly as- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 151 

pire by most fervent affection ; and that the path 
to attain it was the constant exercise of virtue, 
especially of sincere humility and fervid charity 
towards our neighbors so dear to God. She 
accordingly trod that path which would lead her 
surely, and give her entrance into the blissful 
number of the elect. And he subsequently as 
sured her that she had really entered it. 

Margaret was most disconsolate at having 
spent several days without seeing her Jesus. 
Then his holy angei appeared to her and re 
vealed to her most sublime things; but as the 
knowledge of these did not bring that which she 
desired above all others, she interrupted him to 
ask him earnestly to fly to the throne of her 
Jesus, and beg him to deign to console her as 
before with his loved presence. This sudden 
act of love for Jesus surprised the very angel, 
and full of joy he a thousand times blessed his 
care of Margaret, and not only assured her that 
she would soon see her Jesus again on earth, but 
would soon see him eternally in heaven ; and 
then opened before her eyes the glorious book 
of the elect, showing her her own name inscribed 
there in letters of gold. 

lie bore her a like comfort at another time, 
when similarly afflicted. One Friday, just be- 
the I easc of St. Thomas, while imploring with 



152 THE LIFE OF 

tears the Divine aid, the holy angel appeared 
and after lovingly blessing her, promised her in 
the name of her Jesus, things so surpassing all 
human understanding, that she could not find 
words to express it to her confessor. But such 
great promises left her in the importunate fear, 
of losing the visible converse of her Jesus; 
sooner than be deprived of it, she declared her- 
self ready to be deprived of any grace. Then 
the angel assured her that a favor enjoyed so 
specially by her, should not be withdrawn, be 
cause her benign Jesus delighted to converse 
with her in this affable and familiar wav. At 
this promise her loving heart greatly exulted; 
but to dump her joy there arose her wonted fear 
of finally falling into some grievous sin, by 
which she would lose this and every other grace 
Hence all trembling she earnestly prayed hei 
Angel Guardian to obtain of God so painful a 
malady, that her pain would take from her body 
all material for offending God. Her Guardian 
Angel reassured her by reminding her of the 
promise made by Jesus ; that grace would not 
only be constant in her, but increase to the 
day of her death ; that she should leave there 
fore the direction of her body entirely to him, 
whether he wished it sick or well ; saying this 
he was vanishing, when she anxiously implored 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 153 

him to converse still with her, as she felt from 
his presence a more robust strength against the 
assaults of the devil. The good angel con 
tinued to converse with her, and finally departed 
blessing her and promising always to assist her 
with all vigilance, and to intercede for her with 
God. This promise he fulfilled so exactly, that 
as our Lord afterwards revealed to her, not an 
hour passed that he did not offer up supplications 
in her behalf. 

In reward for the great trials which she under 
went in effecting and concluding peace among 
the people of Cortona, her Guardian Angel ap 
peared still more lovingly, assuring her from our 
Lord, that she should for some time enjoy here 
on earth the beatific joys of heaven. So exor 
bitant a promise afflicted instead of delighting 
her, it seeming incredible to her that God would 
deign to communicate himself to a soul as guilty 
as she reputed hers to be. Her by no means 
un frequent and painful doubts were again ex 
cited, as to whether she was not deceived by 
demons transformed into angels of light. As 
on other occasions, so on this, her Guardian An 
gel took out the thorn from her heart, by giving 
her a true sign whereby to discern certainly a 
true from a false spirit, concluding his inter 
view by saying: " The devils are instigators and 



154 THE LIFE OP 

promoters of discord, not of peace, suih as she 
enjoyed." 

Then when heaven began to favor her with 
its visits, he instructed her how to act so as to 
distinguish true apparitions of saints, from de 
ceitful ones of devils ; saying that by a lively 
faith and sincere humility, she should accost 
them with this resolute greeting: "If thou art 
not my Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true 
man, or his Angel of light, I command thee in 
the name of Jesus of Nazareth to depart at once 
from me." And such were her first words on 
those occasions. 

This holy angel was not only solicitous to 
comfort her afflicted mind, but also showed him 
self eager to obtain relief for her prostrated 
body ; frequently warned her against her indis 
creet rigor; proposed suitable restoratives in 
her languors, and counselled her in her swoons 
to pray in a less tedious position, and support 
herself at least by means of a bench. And as 
Margaret implicitly followed all his suggestions, 
he always kept a loving watch and ward over 
her, "walking with her in all her ways, helping 
her in labor, protecting her when at rest, en 
couraging her in the struggle, and crowning 
her whec the victory was won," as Saint Augua- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 155 

tL*e wrote on a similar occasion in his solilo 
quies.* 



CHAPTER IX. 
HEP DEVOTION TO THE SAINTS. 

were the Saints less affectionate towards 
M irgaret than the angels, Jesus frequently as 
suring her, that they Interceded for her with 
special earnestness, desirous of having her in 
their company in heaven. These most revered 
by her, vere those who had most revered her 
Jesus, ar.d for whose veneration, he showed him 
self moi*, desirous. Of his Foster Father, Saint 
Joseph, he said one day: "I wish thee every day 
to render some act of homage to my most loving 
Foster Father." Margaret had no difficulty in 
obeying; on the contrary, she felt her heart borne 
towards him, with an impetuous sympathy; re 
cognizing in him special titles to the love of 
Jesus, whose life in childhood he had saved from 
the jealousy of Herod, and whom, as he grew up, 
he supported by his sweat and toil. Hence, she 

*Ambulans cum ea in omnibus viis ejus, adjuvans labor- 
intern, protegensqiiescentem, adhortans pugnantem, coronans 
rioccnteni. 



150 THE LfFE OF 

distinctly revered his feet which had travelled so 
much to save Him, and liis hands which had so 
labored for His support : his breast that had so 
often gratefully pillowed Him ; and still more, 
his noble heart, the centre of such burning love 
for Him; and for her constant homage to the 
Saint, she asked no return but to be inflamed 
with love like his; which, in fact, he communi 
cated to her. 

She also bore a special affection to the great 
Precursor Saint John the Baptist, in consequence 
of all that he underwent to announce her Jesu? 
to the people. But besides this, in her eyes, 
transcendent motive, two others had enkindled 
her most fervid devotion towards him. His was 
the first soul personally sanctified by her Jesus, 
and so sanctified that " there hath not arisen one 
greater than John the Baptist," and consequently 
the first soul yet conceived incomparably de 
voted to him. Besides, he preached penance, 
and practised it more than he preached. Be 
holding herself so special a favorite of Jesus, 
and desirous of corresponding with equal love, 
and equal penance, she chose him as her special 
advocate to obtain all this, and hourly implored 
his intercession. And lie heard her so graciously, 
that our Lord said one day : "Praise Saint John 
the Baptist, O daughter, who prays constantly 



SAINT MARGARET OF COR ON A. 157 

ibr thee." Among other acts by which she hon 
ored him, we have already mentioned that it was 
her custom, on the Feast of his Nativity, to serve 
up a fine dinner to a great multitude of poor 
people, after having procured it chiefly by her 
own labor and dressed it with her own hands. 

During the time that she had her son with her, 
from the very fact that she loved him tenderly, 
she feared to yield too much to nature, and be 
distracted too much from God, if she employed 
herself in services not actually indispensable. 
To avoid this danger, and not lose time in pre 
paring him food, she set it before him badly 
dressed, and even raw; having agreed with him 
that he was to take in silence whatever was pre 
sented to him. But when she was to serve the 
poor for Jesus sake, in reverence for his Saints, 
she spent day after day, sure of adhering more 
closely to God, as she was less following the im 
pulses of nature. 

Similar traits won her warmest affection for 
the three chief apostles, Peter, Paul, and John. 
In one of her familiar colloquies with Jesus, on 
penance, while grieving that she had begun it so 
late, he consoled her by saying, that her pen 
ance was late indeed, in point of time, but most 
prompt as regarded the fervor of her love. Sur 
prised by a sudden impulse, she turned to Saint 
14 



158 THE LIFE OF 

Peter, exclaiming: " Apostle Peter, beloved of 
God, good reason hadst thou to say against those 
foolish men, who withdrew from Jesus: Lord, 
to whom shall we go ? Thou hast the words of 
eternal life. And had it pleased thee, my Jesus, 
that I were then present, animated by his exam 
ple, I too would have adored thee constantly in 
company with thy faithful, loving Magdalene." 

She very often had recourse to Saint Paul to 
obtain of him a conversion like his : and she 
solemnized with most affectionate homage the 
anniversary of that envied conversion ; and one 
night after that Feast, conceiving more clearly the 
heroism of that magnanimous submission to the 
first words of his Saviour, Margaret, desirous of 
emulating it, showed her readiness for all that 
God might require of her by his words : " Lord ! 
what wilt thou have me to do ?" And this she 
repeated in every distressing accident, adding 
that of his most obedient and loving Mother 
Mary : " Behold the hand- maid of the Lord, may 
it be done unto me according to thy word." On 
tasting his ecstatic sweetness, she cried : " How 
true it is, O Apostle Paul, that eye hath not seen, 
nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart 
of man to conceive, what God hath prepared for 
those who love him ! No other expression of 
the Apostle was, however, more familiar to her 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 159 

than this : " Who shall separate us from the love 
of Christ? neither life nor death, nor any crea 
ture," as related in the fourth chapter of thia 
book. 

To show the ardor of her love for Saint John, 
it will suffice to say, that he was the beloved 
disciple of our Lord, the first born adopted son 
of Mary : and frequently brought by them to 
visit her from heaven. And Margaret knowing, 
and being reminded by him in these visits, that 
he from the fact of bis being better informed of 
-the sentiments of the heart of Jesus, whenever 
he wrote or spoke, inculcated upon the faithful 
fraternal charity by the terms: "My little chil 
dren, love one another : this is the commandment 
of our Lord : if this be done it is sufficient:" told 
her that she could not please him more than to 
be entirely inflamed with love for her neighbor, 
and to please him she conceived that ardent fra 
ternal charity which we have elsewhere described. 
The beloved Apostle returned love for love, in- 
sessantly offering up most ardent supplications 
for her, as Jesus himself declared, and as appeared 
in the following vision. 

Margaret, being once so bereft of strength, that 
she could not by any means drag herself to- her 
usual church to assist at the Divine offices, sought 
to relieve her great regret by uttering this stu- 



160 THE LIFE OF 

pendous expression : " Would that all my bones 
and limbs were broken, could I but come to 
adore thee, O my Jesus, where thon art sacrificed 
for me on the holy altar !" She had but uttered 
these words, when she found herself in spirit in 
an august and majestic temple, in which a vene 
rable and hoary Pontiff was celebrating Mass, 
assisted by two ministers, one of whom, her 
Guardian Angel told her, was her dear Saint 
John supplicating for her. 

Jesus revealed to her so many eminent pre 
rogatives of her Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, 
that her affection for him rivalled his great 
merits, which equalled those of the Seraphim, as 
we shall distinctly relate in the chapter of her 
visions. If we add that the habit of Tertiary 
rendered her his daughter, and the daughter of 
his worthy sons, she was relieved by it in body 
and still more in spirit. She was comforted by 
his frequent apparitions, and enriched with his 
most precious graces. The general pardon of 
her sins granted to her by Jesus, who absolved 
her like another Magdalene with his own lips, 
was obtained as he declared, by her loving Holy 
Patriarch, to whom she consequently owed es 
pecial gratitude. To repay it, she endeavored 
to imitate exactly the virtues of her beloved 
Father, to be able to confound with the beautiful 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 11 

original a no less beautiful copy. To enter into 
his spirit she professed that poverty of all things 
around her, that universal want, and with it that 
provident liberality of all things to other poor 
persons more needy than herself. To liken her 
self to him, she ever beheld herself buried in the 
wounds of her crucified Lord, crucified herself 
by her mortal compassion for his sufferings. 

She was also singiuarly devout to the holy 
Virgin Martyr, Saint Catharine. The solemn 
espousal of the Saint by her Jesus, her fidelity 
so constantly preserved, which gained all those 
converted by her, so won the affections of Mar 
garet s heart, and obliged her to celebrate the 
glorious martyrdom with such devout prepara 
tion, that her confessor used to call it her festival 
day of consolation and grace, obtained often from 
heaven by that Saint, arid always by her inter 
cession. 

Yet her affection was greater, her confidence 
more genial, in Saint Mary Magdalene, the dis 
ciple of our Lord s predilection. The likeness 
presented by her past debauchery and present 
penance, as well as in her habitual and familiar 
intercourse with Jesus, inflamed her love and 
took from her devotion all restraint of subjection. 
The Feast of this most beloved Prctectress once 
found her overcome by grievous illness which 
14* 



162 THE LIFE OF 

had entirely deprived her of strength. Yet at 
the mere remembrance of the great day that had 
come, she suddenly rallied, rose quickly from her 
bed, and exultingly called on those present to 
sing with her hymns of praise to her beloved 
Saint : and with these hymns on her lips she 
flew to the church, where she was welcomed by 
the Saint herself, who appeared escorted by 
angels, robed in light, and bearing a precious 
diadem in her hand ; and while Margaret relieved 
her loving heart, she was the more inflamed at 
this beautiful vision ; and to enkindle it still 
more, Jesus, supporting on his bosom his beloved 
Magdalene, said to Margaret : " In the Jordan 
my Father bore testimony of me to John : This 
is my beloved Son ; so I affirm to thee, this is 
my beloved Daughter, attired in this splendid 
robe in reward for her solitary penitent life, so 
sper.t for my sake, and crowned with this splen 
did diadem by me in token of that unconquered 
constancy maintained for my sake in so many 
combats with the devils." 

The vision disappeared, and with it the mi 
raculous strength, leaving her body in its previous 
debility, unable to raise her head, much less to 
return home. Yet her heart was so invigorated 
and quickened in love for Magdalene, that she 
directed all hor actions like her, and offered all 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 163 

her important ones in her honor: so that no 
other saint was ever more dear, more confiding, 
nor more condescending to her : Jesus having 
revealed that near his throne Magdalene ever 
watched over her, more than any earthly mother 
does over her only child. 

On. another occasion Jesus said, " Daughter, 
because thou offerest devout praises to all my 
Saints, I will cause them to obtain for thee the 
virtue peculiar to each. The Seraphs shall im 
part to thee the ardor of charity : the Prophets 
the discernment of secrets: the Apostles lively 
faith: the Martyrs fortitude in suffering." The 
goodness of the citizens of heaven did not end 
here ; on their festivities they gave her the 
sweetest apparitions, the most joyful visions, for 
her ecstasies became more delicious, her con. verse 
with Jesus sweeter on such days, so that they 
always seemed to her days of Paradise. 



CHAPTER X. 

HER FAITH AND CHARITY. 

FAITH, though blind, serves as a guide and 
gives the hand to all other virtues unable to take 



164 THE LIFE OF 

a step not directed and strengthened by faith., 
Margaret having then taken such steps in the 
paths of all virtue, as we have hitherto shown, 
it becomes us to tell how firm and lively a faith 
existed in her. It was certainly such, that Jesus 
one day did not hesitate to call her his daughter 
of perfect faith, more perfect than that of some 
of his very disciples, while they lived with him; 
and he was so well pleased, that he often occa 
sioned her to elicit in his presence acts of most 
perfect faith. She was in the act of receiving on 
the Saturday preceding the twenty second Sun 
day after Pentecost, when she fell to the ground 
through excessive bodily weakness : then Jesus 
appeared to her, and made her sit and rest her 
head, asking : " Dost thou believe that the Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost are one and eternal?" 
"This question, O Lord, pardon my saying it," 
replied Margaret, "troubles me greatly; thou 
knowest, my Jesus, that I believe it undoubtingly; 
why dost thou ask?" "I knew," replied Jesus, 
" that my Peter loved me more than the rest, 
and nevertheless I asked him : because I delight 
to converse familiarly with those most dear to 
me." 

He repeated the same question another day, to 
which she replied with a sigh: "Would, OLord, 
that I were as certain of never offending thee 



SAII T MARGARET OF CORTONA. 165 

more, as I am that God is one in essence, three 
in person." 

Another time after communion he said to her 
" I am the living bread which came down from 
heaven : I am the Lamb of God who taketh away 
the sins of the world. Wilt thou now come to 
enjoy rny heavenly Father ?" <: Lord," she re 
plied, " when I am with thee, I am with thy Fa 
ther and the Holy Ghost." " But dost thou be 
lieve as thou sayest ?" added our Lord, and she: 
" Thou knowest well, O Lord, that I believe more 
than I say." And she believed so much more, 
that when asked by him after another communion 
whether she believed him to be true God equal 
to the Father, she replied : " that she believed it 
so firmly, that she was amazed that her certainty 
of what he was, did not through awe annihilate 
her when he conversed with her." 

One day conversing with the Father Warden 
and her confessor on the passion of our Saviour, 
suddenly excited by great fervor of spirit, she 
said frankly : " Had I been present at the pas 
sion of my Jesus, I would have implored him 
rather to banish me to hell than subject himself 
to such torments." Such words seemed to the 
Father Warden not unlike those which drew on 
Saint Peter, dissuading our Lord from dying, 
the shar^ rebuke : " Get thee behind me, Satan ;" 



166 THE LIFE OV 

and he reproved her. But her Jesus, w.io saw 
more clearly the sentiments of her pure heart, 
raised her up in ecstasy and praised her, saying: 
"Hadst thou uttered these words at the foot of 
my cross, thy faith, which is all pure, would have 
saved thee." And truly Margaret s faith was so 
pure, that by a special privilege she was ever 
free from those troublesome clouds of temptation 
adverse to it : hence she was praised by Jesus 
with this testimony : "I have retained thee thus 
strong and constant in faith, that thou hast never 
experienced any doubt of me." 

Only one thing appeared to her humility dif 
ficult to belive, and this was, how the Divine 
Majesty could have such love and delight, as he 
testified to having, in converse with her, a vile 
creature, a greater sinner than any other. But 
this difficulty Jesus removed, saying : " Daughter, 
the scriptures attest of me, that my delight is to 
be with the children of men : I am pleased then 
to take my delight with thee, in order to torment 
more that evil one whom I drove from heaven, 
and who, in his malignity, seeks to drive me from 
the hearts of men." 

And her sole delight was in Jesus, for she 
seemed to herself unable to live out of his pres 
ence, and said to him one day : Oh! had it pleased 
thee, my Lord, that I had lived with thee, visible 



SAINT MARGARET OK GORTON A. 167 

and mortal on earth ; surely I would ever have 
been at thy feet to adore thee with Magdalene." 
He replied: "Remember that thy faith makes 
thee enjoy that very bliss with greater merit; 
for blessed are they that have not seen and have 
believed." 

She frequently raised her heart to God with 
this devout aspiration : " Lord ! Lord !" Her 
3onfessor asked her which she meant by this ex 
pression, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or. 
simply, our Lord Jesus Christ ? She replied, 
" that she intended that sgle eternal God, who is 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." The devil en 
deavored to take this invocation from her mouth, 
discrediting it as unacceptable to God ; but her 
Jesus assured her that it pleased him greatly. 

She was, moreover, accustomed to begin every 
meditation with long and humble adoration of 
the Holy Trinity; and as she had a supernatural 
understanding of this mystery, she maintained the 
liveliest faith in it, producing special acts of 
reverence through the day ; as we stated when 
speaking of her vocal prayer. 

Nor was her hope less firm than her faith, al 
though not as placid ; for the devils frequently 
raised up her very humility to shake it, instiga 
ting her through a just appreciation of her great 
faults to despair of her eternal salvation, and 



168 THE LIFE OF 

through her clear knowledge of her total insuffi 
ciency, to be diffident as to the execution of the 
great works which God suggested to her. Yet 
if the assaults of the devils to shake her hope 
were frequent, the impulses of her Jesus to con 
firm it were still more so. 

The intimation once given her of most acute 
bodily pain and mental anguish impending over 
her, served as an occasion to the devils to trou- 
. ble her, and excite distrust as to her ability to 
sustain them. Then Jesus told her, that his 
powerful grace, which gave strength to the mar 
tyrs, would give it to her also. " It is true," re 
plied Margaret, " but I am totally undeserving 
of such grace." "And because thou art totally 
undeserving of it," replied our Lord, "thou 
shouldst hope the more from my mercy to diffuse 
itself where there is least merit, and to do best 
to the least deserving." 

After receiving on the eve of St. John the 
Baptist, she heard her Jesus say, that she was to 
be even in heaven a beautiful mirror of his mercy 
from the many extraordinary graces with which 
he would adorn her. He also combated con 
stantly her humble fear of impeding the fulfil 
ment of all these promises, by her failure to cor 
respond to them. To dissipate this fear, Jesus 
animated her, by saying, that his blood shed for 



SAINT MAllttARET OF GORTON \. 16 .* 

her, had purified her fro LI every stain, so that 
she was the first washed perfectly white ir. the 
blood of the Larnb ; that she should consequently 
distrust herself, but not his mercy or his blood. 
And this she practiced exactly to the sharne of 
all cowardly pusillanimity ; fully persuaded by 
faith, that " I can do all things in him that com- 
forioth me ; in the Lord we shall do virtue." 

She was often accustomed to say that as we 
are enriched by the merits of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, we should more securely hope the most 
difficult miracles, than an innocent child expects 
milk from its loving mother ; as God himself im 
plies in the words of Isaias : " Can a woman 
forget her infant so as not to have mercy on the 
child of her womb? And if she should forget 
it, yet will I not forget thee." Hence, to per 
suade her Friars at last to give her the Tertiary 
habit which she longed for, she told them that 
emphatic assurance, implanted in her heart and 
tongue, of a lively hope never again to be 
severed from God, even though the devil should 
use greater violence to effect it, leagued with the 
world and the flesh, as we declared in that chap 
ter. Hence, she felt more certain of her daily 
bread, when expecting it solely from the pro 
vidence of her good Father God, than from the 
charitable care of her benefactress ; hence, she 
15 



170 THK UKK UK 

wished Father Giunta to revoke an order given 
to a picus lady to provide her daily. And her 
Jesus then especially encouraged her so to trust 
to Divine providence in her temporal wants, that 
during a severe illness, she found herself aban 
doned even by the woman who attended on her : 
on which occasion our Lord said: "Fear not, 
daughter, I will take particular care of thy sea 
sonable relief. Seek rne alone, and I will seek 
thee more eagerly than I am sought by thee." 

By virtue too of this humble and lively confi 
dence, which, theologians assure us, is usually 
the measure of graces obtained, she received 
from God the miraculous conquest of so many 
obstinate souls, and the fortunate result of so 
many difficult undertakings : as well as the re 
lief desired by all who commended themselves 
to her prayers. By it too she obtained for her 
self special prerogatives. 

One day discoursing with her confessor on 
these divine words: "By faith the saints over 
came kingdoms, worked justice and secured the 
promises;" she added, "Wretched as I am, the 
thought of that eternal glory endows me with 
such strength, that I feel ravished with joy, to 
undergo every bitter torment, every acute suffer 
ing; and the hope of my, too, one day being in 
ebriated with that pure joy, so encourages me, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 171 

that without pain I would be burnt up alive in 
a furnace, and die crushed by blows. How 
lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord ! my soul 
longeth and fainteth for thy courts. O my 
God, that I could see my flesh eaten, consumed 
by worms to the smallest fragment ! that in this 
guise I might be more like thy sufferings, and go 
less fettered to enjoy thy glory, free from the 
shackles of this body ; and should one of these 
worms fall to the earth, I would take it devoutly, 
and joyfully replace it in the seat of its food 
and my pain." Such fair fruits produced by her 
unshaken hope, justify the prediction of the 
wise man : " Who hope in the Lord shall ex 
change strength, they shall take wings, as eagles 
shall they fly, and they shall not faint." 



CHAPTER XI 

HER LOVE OF GOD. 



As love of God is the last aim of our being, 
go it was the only object of Margaret s virtuous 
desires, and of the liberal favors bestowed upon 
her by the whole court of heaven whose familiarity 



(72 THE LIFE OF 

she enjoyed ; and she attained so eminent a de 
gree, that she one day heard from her Jesus ; " 1 
assure thee that I am loved by thee with greater 
purity than by any other person living in the 
world." This furnace of Margaret s loving heart, 
God was pleased to reveal in a vision to that 
illustrious Franciscan Friar, Conrad, a man no 
less venerated for his sanctity than renowned 
for learning. To assure himself of the great 
things reported by fame of Margaret s stupen 
dous actions, he came from a distant part to Cor- 
tona to converse with her. His interviews were 
rather rigid examinations than simple conver 
sations, but most fortunate in their result : for 
from a censor he became an admirer, and from a 
master, a disciple of Margaret s, whom he found 
greater even than fame reported, so that he sought 
her counsel and direction for his own conscience. 
This learned Religious, while praying at night 
for Margaret, felt his mind raised to a joyful 
spectacle, which he did not however compre 
hend. He beheld a soul, which, like the myste 
rious bush shown to Moses, diffused on every 
side flames of fire, and while he was thinking 
that it was a symbol of some ardent Seraph 
already in heaven, he heard an angel distinctly 
declare that it was Margaret s soul, so enamored 
of God, whom alone she sought, desiring nought 
but Him. 



SAINT MARGARET uF (JORTONA. 173 

From the very beginning cf her conversion 
she renounced the love of all that was not God ; 
so when miraculously asked by that Crucifix, 
as we related in the first book : " What she de 
sired," she replied that she wished nought but 
Him alone. Jesus himself renewed the question 
once at Epiphany in these more loving terms : 
" My beloved daughter, spouse and sister, ask 
me what pleases thee most," and she replied as 
before in these words : " I ask naught but ever to 
serve and ever to love thee better." 

And as she sincerely panted for this, she 
always avoided, with all her might, whatever she 
knew to be an obstacle. Having often experi 
enced that any vain or useless word spoken by 
her or even heard during the day, hindered 
her familiar communications with God at 
night, which so inflamed her with his love; she 
prized that silent and retired life, in which she 
uttered, even to her confessor, not a word that 
was not holy or necessary. Once while shut up 
in her hut, it happened that some women stopped 
near the door to discourse profanely, and Mar 
garet, unable to avoid hearing, feared to incur 
some fault to diminish her love for God; hence 
she so protested and so commended herself to 
him, that her Jesus finally came to recreate her 
with his Divine colloquies. 
15* 



174 THE LIFK OF 

And she wished the conversation of all who 
came to treat with her to be absolutely divine; 
and she hearing them was not only inflamed in 
heart but strengthened in body. Father Giunta 
attests that he never found Margaret so pros 
trated, that his first word on spiritual things did 
not suddenly raise her up ; so that on entering 
her cell he was often met by the request: "Fa 
ther of my soul, and beloved brother in Jesus, 
speak to me always of God, for I feel then so 
inebriated and comforted, that trouble vanishes 
at once from my heart, and I no longer feel any 
debility of body." The word of God, even when 
read to her, produced the same happy effect. 
Once when she had been vexed by many temp 
tations, Father Giunta opportunely arrived early 
in the morning at her hut, and to refresh her 
after the conflicts which she had sustained, he 
began to read the Scriptures. He had scarcely 
read a line, when she was so inflamed that she 
lost the use of her senses, and remained so long 
in ecstasy, that the hour of Terce arrived and 
Father Giunta had to leave her in the care of 
her good companion, Egidia, who shook and 
called her several times, to bring her back to 
herself. She came to herself about Vesper time, 
when, as Father Giunta had returned, she asked 
hi*n to resume his interrupted readings; he 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 175 

wished to obtain an account of the ravishment, 
and to induce her to take some food ; but seeing 
her still half ecstatic, yet able to receive food for 
the soul and commerce with heaven, he yielded 
and resumed his reading, as she did her ecstasy, 
in which she assumed a most joyful countenance, 
or gave in turn signs of admiration, reverence, 
delight, and sadness; and in this blissful state 
she spent the rest of that happy day, during 
which, as often happened, blessed denizens of 
heaven taught her the art of emulating their 
most perfect love for God. 

But though she constantly emulated it, yet 
always discerning the better the loveliness of 
her God, as she saw that she did not love him 
as he deserved, she seemed never even to love 
him as much as she could. Jesus encouraged 
this humble feeling, and bewailed with her her 
scanty love; to increase it, he concluded his la 
ment with these words : " Love me, my daughter, 
for I love thee above any other living being." 
Once bitterly disconsolate at this feeling, she 
threw herself at her confessor s feet, accusing 
herself more by tears than words, of acting sloth- 
fully towards her God and doing nothing for him. 
And yet she did so much for him then that she 
never did more. Reminded of this by her con 
fessor, she feared that his words were rather an 



176 THE LIFE OF 

effect of compassion for her great grief than a sin 
cere expression of truth. Hence she implored 
more infallible security from her Jesus, and he 
mercifully gave it, showing her the signs of true 
love really in her, say ing : " Thou art she, who foa 
my love fasts so long, treats herself so harshly,, 
lives so poorly, flies all relief, seeks every trial, 
desires nought but to please me, ready to lead a 
life worse than any death in order to please me: 
and worse than such a life to encounter the most 
excruciating death." Margaret, unable to gaiu- 
say this, at last believed that she really loved her 
God. 

But this love of hers did not seern to her so 
great as it might be, and still less equal to God s 
infinite merit ; so that blushing within herself, 
she was bitterly disconsolate and was ready to 
die of a broken heart, had she not been relieved 
by her Jesus. Assured by faith, that he had 
always entertained for God that infinite love of 
which God is worthy, and that he had this love 
also in our name, as our Redeemer from all our 
debts, she was so consoled, that she deemed this 
the greatest favor conferred by her Jesus, and 
this chiefly enkindled her ardent love for him. 
Nevertheless desirous of loving her God herself, 
she earnestly besought her Jesus to admit her 
permanently into his sacred heart, that his affeo 



SAINT MAKGARET OF COKTuNA. 177 

tions might once become her own : and he soon 
grunted her petition, inviting her to penetrate 
into his heart through his open side. 

From that noble heart she caught such pure 
flames, that they consumed all attachment to any 
other object, even holy and superhuman, and 
made her care only for God alone. For some 
years she was somewhat too much attached to the 
sensible tenderness : and she even thought, as 
beginners commonly do, that exercises of piety 
performed with little relish on her part, could 
not be pleasing to God : hence she panted eagerly 
for spiritual consolations, and was excessively 
afflicted when they were withheld. Jesus cor 
rected this defective attachment, saying: " Daugh 
ter, thou wouldst ever be nourished with the 
sweets of internal consolation ; but this should 
not be so, because thou art the daughter of my 
side, where thou shouldst suck in blood and grief 
and pain : and I assure thee that by thy con 
stancy in desolations, I am better served, and 
thou gainest greater merit, for then thou servest 
me not for thy pleasure, but for mine." 

She profited so well by this correction, that 
she could at last affirm with an oath to her Jesus, 
that she was ready to live deprived of all spirit 
ual sweetness, and to pass her whole life discon 
solate and afflicted with him, her suffering Lord; 



178 TMK I, IKK OK 

an offering accepted by him, and frequently 
tested, as is evinced in many parts of this life. 

Finding herself one day so dry and desolate, 
that it required great effort to recite the Lord s 
prayer, she nevertheless struggled to recite 
to the full number of the hundreds which 1 
she usually said. Then Jesus appeared to her 
and encouraged her not to omit any; assuring 
her that if she did not find any sensible com 
fort in it, it afforded him the greatest pleasure, 
and this alone should be sufficient to induce her. 
to fulfil punctually any undertaking. "And it 
did so suffice," continued Margaret, " that there 
was nothing so grievous or repulsive that did 
not seem light and sweet when seasoned with his 
good pleasure." 

A furious demon in a most terrible form as 
sailed her one day in her cell, and seizing her 
by the hair of her head, said that he had permis 
sion from God to drag her through the street, 
and wrench out her life by every fierce torment. 
Tiie dauntless heroine was not alarmed at this 
sad intimation, but at once replied : "Do now 
and ever whatever is pleasing to my God, and 
fulfil exactly his Divine will however afflicting 
to me." 

But if she was not alarmed by the threats of 
diabolical lage, she was much troubled by their 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 179 

suggestions by which they incited her to sin; 
and once while thus afflicted, Jesus told her not 
to regret that continual battle wished by him, 
disposed to try her constancy in that tedious 
conflict, her endurance of which purged her 
from every slight stain : and that she was nearer 
to him, the more removed she feared to be ; and 
that he allowed her thus to fear, that this un 
certainty might render her by its stings more 
prompt to combat, and more quick in having 
recourse to him. "So be it, Lord!" she re 
plied ; " and that I may be ever united to thee, 
may all the devils harass me with all their art." 
Jesus corrected another imperfection in Mar 
garet, and one into which she frequently fell. 
This consisted in revolving anxiously in herself, 
when she prayed or received, what grace God 
had then conceded to her. He told her that 
her solicitude should be to execute faithfully all 
his insinuations, and that she should leave all 
care of her body and soul indifferent to him, re 
lying on the expression, " The Lord ruleth me, 
nothing shall be wanting to me: in the place of 
his pasture shall he set me :" and she afterwards 
constantly practiced it, although ever more de 
sirous of loving her God, she was indifferent and 
resigned to such disposition as he chose to make 
in increasing that love. 



180 THE LIFE OF 

Yet to herself she seemed to retain a certain 
vicious remnant of self-love, and, hence, sKi fre 
quently recurred to her Jesus to deign to " irify 
her from this stain more difficult than any >ther 
to avoid. Despairing of avoiding it ent .rely, 
she confidently protested to him during i. visit 
which he paid her on the Feast of the Am.unci- 
ation, that she left him the custody of her heart, 
that no other should enter there but God alone. 
He kindly accepted it, but declared hin self a 
little offended at her extreme fear of being 
stained by some human affection, saying ; "My 
daughter, thou couldst serve rne better, c id not 
thy fears keep thy mind distracted by Carious 
cares, which then are negligently dispelled." 
Signifying to her and to us, by this advice, that 
if the fear of offending God distracts our mind, 
and disturbs our soul, it is riot exempt from the 
very defect which we dread. 

Fearing one day lest her faults had deprived 
her of the loving familiarity of her Jesus, she 
was heard weeping bitterly in her cell, and ex 
claiming, li Restore thyself to me, O most high 
God, restore thyself to me, my Beloved, return 
to me, O my Creator ; return to me, my Re 
deemer, Spouse of my soul, for without thee I 
have no rest." Our Lord soon consoled her, ap 
pearing with a countenance full of love, and 



SAINT MARGARET )F GORTON A. 18 1 

among other affectionate expressions he used 
this: "Thou art my daughter, a light set in 
darkness, that thy life may be a beautiful con 
firmation of the truth of my faith, which thy 
good Father Francis defended, and increased 
with so great zeal ; but remember that I do not 
wish thee to examine so much, and be so so 
licitous in all thou dost : Cast thy thought OD 
the Lord, and he wiil nurture thee. " 

And she really so cast her thoughts on God v 
and so fixed her affection on him, that she was 
satisfied with him alone. He once showed her 
an angel who was to be constantly assisting and 
comforting her. She delighted at the offer, but 
declared her only desired comfort to be the as 
sistance and presence of himself, the Creator of 
all the angels. One of these appeared to her 
while longing for the communing of her Jesus; 
but she, like Magdalene, seeking the body of her 
Master at the sepulchre, scarcely deigned him 
a look, which she gave him to see whether he 
was her expected Lord. He showed her one 
day her Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, in hea 
venly glory, attended by other saints; and to 
persuade her to remain in their company, he 
displayed to her minutely, their pure content, 
their overflowing joy ; but she protested that her 
best content and greatest glory was to be accom 
panied by him. 

16 



182 THE LIFE OF 

On another occasion, he set before her m a 
more beautiful form the glory of his most bles 
sed Mother Mary, and after making her contem 
plate it Jully, he asked her in astonishment as 
it were, why she remained indifferent, and ex 
pressed no wish not to lose the joyful sight. She 
replied, that while she saw and enjoyed him, she 
could have no other desire, he satisfying all. 
To alleviate her sufferings one day, he offered 
promptly to show her the great and signal re 
wards with which he intended to exalt her on 
earth, and the sublime glory to which he was to 
raise her in heaven ; but she frankly replied, 
that she did not care to know it ; he alone suf 
ficing for her, he alone being all the good she 
desired, to attain which she was ready to live 
most wretched on earth, and even endure hell, 
deprived forever of all the joys of heaven. To 
that degree was her heart detached from self, 
and purged from all self-interest, virtuous even, 
and superhuman. " But for the very reason that 
thou seekest me only," replied Jesus, "I wish to 
load thee with my gifts on earth and in heaven. 
Thou art truly my beloved daughter, who 
obeyest me perfectly : thou my true spouse, who 
lovest me alone: thou my mother, who fulfillest 
entirely my Father s will. I therefore, wish to 
fulfil thine, nor shall there be any creature, for 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 133 

whom thou intercedes! with me, to whom I will 
not show mercy." Blessed we, if she intercedes 
for us; and happier still, if she obtains for us a 
love of God like her own. "Make my heart 
burn, in loving Christ my God." 



CHAPTER XII. 
HER ECSTASIES AND VISIONS. 

THIS history is full of Margaret s ecstasies and 
visions, as her most penitent life was ; in which 
Jesus wished the sorrows of Calvary, and the 
joys of Thabor, to be most frequent ; as he 
wished her to be a beautiful portrait of his mor 
tal life, in which ever blended the supreme joy of 
the King of glory with the supreme suffering of 
the King of martyrs. Margaret s whole life was 
indeed a fearful and delighful blending of bliss 
ful joys and excruciating pain. But as I do not 
undertade the task of relating all these, for it 
would far exceed any human tongue, for the same 
reason it is not my intention to relate all ; yet 
I will gather here the ecstasies and visions, an 
account of which can most please the Saint her 
self, and her devout clients ; and for her grat 



THE LIFE OF 

itude and my reverence, I begin by those which 
belong to the Seraphic Saint Francis and hia 
most estimable order. 

There appeared one day before her ecstatic 
mind that most sublime seat of glory, destined 
for Lucifer in heaven ; and while in wonder she 
admired its beauty, she heard her Jesus say, " that 
that was the position occupied in heaven by his 
beloved Francis, raised to it by his profound 
humility, and charity so ardent that there was no 
Christian heart in the world like his: and that 
the wide space around that lofty throne was to 
be filled by his children in humility, in love like 
their holy fathers. That he deemed their order 
the garden of his love, worthy of being culti 
vated and defended by his special care. All this 
she should tell them on his behalf, and add that 
they were his zealous apostles, as dear to him as 
aught else on earth ; that because they were so 
dear to him, he permitted such black calumnies, 
such rabid persecutions from the world, as he 
tad permitted against his first Apostles: and 
that if they had not like these all died martyrs, 
they should nevertheless all be crowned with 
martyrdom by suffering such torments, which on 
an approaching occasion would be greatly in 
creased: after which he would sanctify and 
glorify them more, in reward for their loving 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTONA. 185 

care of her, whom he had given them expressly 
to sanctify and glorify them to the end of 
time." All this she faithfully reported to her 
loved friars, and they by the fruit they derived 
from it, corresponded fully to the idea which 
God had in wishing them thus informed : they 
persevered constantly in their fervent preach 
ing: they intrepidly sustained the common 
slanders : they served with greater attention 
their great daughter, whom not a few wished 
to have as a spiritual mother, imitating her 
example, invoking her in their wants, con 
sulting her in doubts, and fulfilling the intima 
tions which God, through her, was pleased to give 
them frequently, as Father Giunta relates in the 
Bollandists. 

That same day Jesus wafted her ecstatic mind 
to a more eminent and luminous throne, the very 
throne of his Mother, Mary, Queen of heaven. 
Margaret excited at this delightful spectacle, arid 
the more to enjoy its beauty, sought to compre 
hend the better its sublime height and discover 
better its radiant brilliancy, but all in vain : Jesua 
telling her that she could not fathom the bliss 
of that great soul, rendered more like his own 
in sanctity than any other, and made more con 
formable to his in glory beyond all others. And 
he began to extol the privileges of his beloved 



186 



THE LIFE OF 



Mother, protesting that she merited even greater 
encomiums than are bestowed upon her in the 
Scriptures, so that could heaven give her greater 
honor or greater glory, this greater degree would 
be due his Mother ; so that she must not wonder 
if she saw him associate so near to himself that 
holiest of creatures, and associate himself with, 
her (as he frequently did with Margaret) to honor 
his Mother with the Angelic Salutation. She 
thus learned from his example to esteem and 
honor more so great a lady, who, though so 
great, had yet chosen her heart as a special 
throne, and enriched it with most signal gifts, 
which she constantly obtained of him as his 
Mother. This ecstasy happened in those happy 
days when multitudes of sinners, moved to com 
punction by Margaret s zeal, were sent by he: 
to Father Giunta to confession, wearying him 
with so many penitents that he said clearly one 
day, that he had lost all heart and strength to 
cleanse so many stables. Hence Jesus concluded 
the ecstasy by telling Margaret to announce to 
Father Giunta in his name, that he erected as 
iaany thrones to God as he cleansed stables. 

One Sunday near Epiphany, having had a 
long conference in her cell with her Jesus, he 
suddenly withdrew and disappeared. To find 
him again she rushed ecstatic and frantic from 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 187 

her cell, and ran sobbing and groaning to the 
church of her iriars. Father Giunta met her 
in the way, and discovering the cause by a kind 
of intuition, said: "Let us return to the cell to 
find Jesus." Margaret obeyed, and in reward 
for her obedience, found him more benignant 
than before, for he clasped her to his heart and 
said: "That her great thirst which she enter 
tained for him pleased him ; but that she should 
remember that as daughter of his afflicted heart, 
she should quench her thirst with gall and not 
with milk; and that she could not find him by 
any better wuy than he had taken to find her; 
and as he had become her Redeemer at the ex 
pense of bitterness, so by bitterness was she to 
become one of his redeemed." 

He had kept her for some days plunged in 
this bitterness, in most arid desolation of spirit ; 
to alleviate this bitter distress, her compassionate 
confessor, on the first Friday of Lent, began to 
read her some of the special graces promised her 
by her Jesus. This sweet remembrance revived 
her dejected spirit, and to her most contrite tears 
succeeded more than usual joy ; so joyful was 
the ecstasy that ravished her. But recollecting 
that it was Friday, and ashamed of exulting so 
on that day, on which her Jesus had suffered so 
much, she prayed him to take away this consola 
tion and restore her pain. 



188 THE LIFE OF 

The ordinary object of her visions was her 
Jesus, who, although wont to appear in some 
stage of his dolorous passion, nevertheless ap 
peared at times glorious as he is now in heaven, 
and on other occasions an infant such as he was in 
the grotto at Bethlehem. Once while praying 
devoutly, she beheld before her that dear child, 
extending his hands to her. eager to be clasped 
to her bosom and caressed. She also beheld him 
lie shivering in the manger, taken up and nursed 
at Mary s pure breast, from which he turned 
joyful and loving. 

She not un frequently saw the pompous en 
trance which she was one day to make in heaven, 
placed in the very rank of the most blessed 
Seraphim close by his most beloved Magdalene; 
and in delighting over this joyful apparition, her 
ecstatic spirit so departed from her body, that a 
fire-brand falling on her bare feet so burnt the 
flesh that the wound remained many days, yet 
without her experiencing any pain. 

Y"et her visions were not always so joyful; 
sometimes they made her weep disconsolately. 
This was the case whenever Jesus appeared 
wounded by the Jews or tortured by perverse 
Christians. One morning, as Margaret was pas 
sing a church, she heard the usual sign of the 
eJevation given by the bell ; the presence of be* 



SAINT MARGARKT OF CORTONA. 189 

Jesus in his Sacrament soon ravished her in 
ecstasy, and .n her ecstasy she entered the church, 
at the very moment when the unworthy priest 
was raising the consecrated Host before the 
people ; but instead of the Host she beheld in 
his hands her Jesus, black and defiled by the 
sacrilegious man. Sad and afflicted, her Divine 
Lord addressed her, saying : " And what thinkest 
thou of rne ?" " Ah, Lord," she replied, all stiff 
ening with horror, " because thou art most beau 
tiful, it breaks rny heart to see thee so ill treated." 
Yet her gentle zeal implored not the chastise 
ment of the guilty priest, but his repentance and 
amendment, often uttering, "Mercy! rnercy !" 
Jesus promised to grant it, if he did condign 
penance for his execrable guilt, and he concluded 
the colloquy by transpiercing Margaret s heart 
with a sad message: "Tell Father Giunta that 
the majority of my ministers touch me with 
hands as black and filthy." 

As this may be true even in our days, it cannot 
but rend the heart of every good Christian, and 
now it checks my horror-stricken pen. May 
she employ all her zeal, and by her powerful 
intercession render all our modern priests as 
holy as those of old were wicked. The sancti 
fied priesthood will be the most joyful of her 
visions, the gladdest for heaven. " Thy priests 
shall put on justice and thy saints shal . exult." 



190 THE LIFE OF 

CHAPTER XIII. 

HER PROPHECIES. 

THE discernment of hidden things is so emi 
nent a gift that it is well said in Isaias : "An 
nounce the things which are to happen hereafter, 
and we will know that ye are gods." Now of 
this gift so peculiarly his own. God was so liberal 
with his Margaret, that it is impossible to find 
one among the saints to whom he imparted it so 
lavishly. Even when she was sunk in so much 
sin, he not unfrequently illumined her mind with 
this fair light, so that more than once was she 
heard replying to those who zealously reproved 
her for her wantonness : " You will see, yes, you 
will see the time when they will call me a saint, 
and pilgrims come with their palmer s staff to 
my tomb." When she had become a saint, these 
lights grew so clear that it suffices to say, that 
she was almost always joined in confidential con 
verse with Incarnate Wisdom itself, who dis 
covered to her every event that concerned her, 
and revealed to her the secrets of other hearts. 

She foresaw and openly predicted to Father 
Giunta all the discussion that took place in the 
Chapter at Siena, as to the course to be pursued 



SAINT MARGAKICT (>l- COKTONA. 191 

by the friars towards her. She also foresaw the 
sublime glory which she was to enjoy with the 
saints in heaven, and the high honor to be paid 
her by men on earth. She knew the day, hour, 
and moment of her blessed death. She knew 
that her body was to remain in no hands but 
those of her friars, and she knew this at a time 
when every circumstance in human probability 
seemed to indicate the reverse. Relying on this, 
a certain religious not only believed himself, 
but persuaded others, that Margaret would end 
her days separated from her friars, and far from 
Cortona. Jesus declared this tro be not so, again 
assuring her that he had given her alive and dead 
to the sons of Saint Francis as a pledge of his 
love ; and that for the glory and advantage of 
the Cortonese he had always retained her in that 
city, so beloved by him now as her abode, and 
to be as beloved hereafter as her resting-place. 

Jesus also discovered to Margaret the fortunate 
future of her son ; and the zealous mother clearly 
assured Father G.unta that he would enter the 
order of Saint Francis, be raised to the priest 
hood, and by his fervent preaching give glory to 
God, lustre to religion, terror to hell, and joy to 
heaven, whither followed by many souls con 
verted by him, he would be admitted, if not full 
of years, at least loaded with merits. 



192 THK FJFK OK 

There were few or none of the Cortonese whose 
interior ways were unknown to her, or which 
she did not on occasion declare. She one day re 
vealed to her generous benefactress, the Countess 
Maineria, that if she wished fewer disasters in 
her house, and greater pledges of the Divine pro 
tection. she must induce the Count, her son. to 
merit them by cleansing his soul in an exact 
general confession. A townsman of Cortona 
became reconciled to a vile rival; his companions, 
deeming such a reconciliation base and vile r 
avoided him in public and flouted him. Upheld 
by Margaret, he nevertheless maintained his 
peace, and cheerfully suffered his confusion ; and 
as a reward he received from Margaret the assu 
rance of his speedy death, directing him to pre 
pare for it by granting one of his sons permission 
to enter religion, ana himself to frequent the 
sacraments with greater devotion and compunc 
tion. 

An afflicted gentleman begged Margaret s 
prayers to deliver him from some evils very an 
noying to him; but she, to deliver him from 
eternal woes, of which he cared but little, in 
creased the weight of the temporal ones, which 
he dreaded ; revealing to him that God for his 
great confusion would degrade him from the 
honorable post he held, in punishrrent for his 



bAUNl MARGAKET Of GORTON A. 193 

faults, great and small, in order, as she distinctly 
explained to him, to give him compunction and 
amendment. 

A lady, desirous of success in an urgent mat 
ter, also sought the aid of her prayers. Margaret 
replied with a sigh, that two great sins which she 
had committed were an obstacle to its success 
and to any other good fortune ; sins which she 
jealously guarded in her heart, and did not re 
veal even in confession. The lady shuddered to 
see her hidden secret thus known to Margaret, 
and conceived a greater affection and esteem for 
her. 

Another lady conceived the same, when one 
day conversing with Margaret, she was lovingly 
reminded of the same truth, which she wickedly 
endeavored to conceal by greater falsehoods. 
Her greedy companion conceived not love and 
esteem, but envy and contempt on being rebuked 
by her for her insatiable and indiscreet impor 
tunity ; and by many secret thefts, not only of 
goods with her hands, but of reputations by her 
mouth. 

A man of letters had such faith in Margaret, 
that though sick he had himself carried to her 
to be more calmed in mind than cured in body ; 
and to calm his mind Margaret discovered to 
him the secret occasion of his trouble: telling 
17 



194 



THE LIFK OF 



him, "that he would have enjoyed quiet had h* 
hated every incentive to sin as he hated sin ; 
if he wished to keep his mind more chaste 
be should give less free reins to his thoughts 
that he would be more chary in exposing him 
self to danger, if he would triumph over it more 
easily; and that he would more promptly flee 
occasions, if he wished affections to fly less 
quickly from his heart ; that he now felt so abased 
and dejected in punishment for the presumption 
already shown in his great memory ; that he 
should therefore trust more to God and less to him 
self; that he would then find fewer defects, and 
enjoy the more the effects of God s omnipotence." 
Full of astonishment at this true picture of his 
interior, he felt calmed as he resolved to 
follow the directions of his amiable censor; but 
as he seemed to himself not sufficiently faithful, 
he returned to her to acquire fresh courage and 
strength to combat the enemies discovered by 
her prophetic light. 

But if she rendered this man more rigid 
against himself, she rendered more mild and 
benignant a superior who was always imperious 
and austere. He forgot the counsel of St. Paul 
to the Galatians : "Instruct in the spirit of lenity 
considering thyself lest thou too be tempted ; 
and always acted as a severe judge and not as 



SAIN I 1 MARGARET OF CORTONA. 195 

a loving father towards .a guilty subjeut. She 
told this superior, through Father Giunta, that 
the unhappy man persecuted by him was like 
a rock hanging over a great precipice, arid that 
he should remember that in commanding he filled 
the place of that Lord, who enjoins meekness 
rather than rigor on his vicars : " Learn of me 
that I am meek and humble of heart :" and who 
declared to his first Vicar, that he should par 
don the offences of others not seven times but 
seventy times seven times. 

A noble lady of Gorton a, who was left a 
widow, governed herself in her widowhood by 
the advice given to such as her by the apostle St. 
Paul, a stranger to pomp, guarded in conversation, 
keeping aloof from all shows, attentive to her 
family, assiduous in devotion. A life so exem 
plary soon procured her the highest veneration 
from all ; and also raised her in her own esteem, 
so that she vainly reputed herself better than 
she was. To undeceive such vanity, and cleanse 
her more completely from all stain, God revealed 
to Margaret, who was then imploring for her the 
gift of perseverance, many old faults of hers, not 
noticed by her, and not mentioned in her con 
fessions ; and at the same time directed Margaret 
to declare all this to her minutely, to induce her 
to think less of her present virtues and more of 



196 THE LIFE OF 

ner past vices. Margaret promptly obeyed, an 
nouncing to her all these faults through Father 
Giunta their common confessor. The faults 
overlooked by the lady were precisely such as 
persons in her condition most frequently commit 
and most easily forget, for which reason I will 
here sketch them. 

Margaret said then to Father Giunta, that the 
lady when a girl had too immoderately adorned 
her neck and head, and that she had indulged in 
too great a love for the one whom she married, 
anxiously soliciting his addresses; and that when 
finally he obtained her in marriage, that she re 
joiced so on the wedding day that she entirely 
forgot God and her usual exercises of devotion ; 
and that she continued this neglect even when 
married, for idolizing her husband, she could 
not contain herself even on the holiest days; and 
ever intent in surpassing all in grace and beauty, 
she spent but little time in her oratory, and much 
at her mirror ; eager by means of the latter to 
remove any bodily tarnish, but most deaf to the 
admonitions of God to correct the defilements 
of her soul. God would have wished her more 
discreet with her domestics, and she was always 
more harsh and imperious; more compassionate 
to the poor, and she was but the harder, leaving 
her very relatives t^ suffer from want; more 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 197 

anxious for the general good of his country, and 
she was also the more embittered in faction. How 
often had she figured in public balls, led thither 
by an ambition to be deemed the belle of the 
assembly ! How often did she enter the com 
pany of the most beautiful, to derive from the 
comparison a greater relief to her own beauty ! 
A.nd if she met one fairer than herself, how she 
ourned with envy and hate, how she lowered her 
with insinuations, discredited her by slanders! 
4! ways ready to misrepresent the actions of others, 
lever ready to commend, as though none de 
served praise but herself, and deeming herself 
really so for having avoided some vices and 
practiced some virtues. Such was this rigid 
judgment which the contrite lady admitted to 
be just, and by which she profited ; bui, as Mar 
garet predicted, enough to save her sou 1 , but not 
enough to sanctify herself. 

But if the lady did not derive the greatest ad 
vantage from Margaret s prophetic revelation, a 
poor woman did. Desirous of imitating Mar 
garet in internal perfection, as she was like her 
in the outward profession of Tertiary, and iu 
the name of Margaret, she earnestly besought 
her one day to tell her what she saw in her dis 
pleasing to God, and what would please him 
more The humble Saint, to conceal her hab- 
17* 



198 THE LIFE OF 

itual discernment of the hearts of others, told 
her that she had asked light of her Jesus, and 
that he had told her. She reported it as follows: 
Our Lord said that she should renew her general 
confession at Father Giunta s feet, with a more 
exact search and purer contrition, and that she 
should hasten the fulfillment of that restitution 
which she was bound to make; after which, she 
should profess a more austere poverty, a more 
solitary retirement, a more dependent subjection 
on the counsels and instructions of the friars. 
All this she faithfully performed, and so deserved 
Margaret s most tender love, and our Saint, by 
the wish of our Lord, ever considered her as a 
most special daughter. 

A young man, saved by the power of Marga 
ret s prophetic light, had also just ground to 
deem her his most benign mother. His venera 
tion for the sons of Saint Francis had led him 
from the diocese of Arezzo to Gorton a, to con 
fess to one of them. Meeting Father Giunta-, he 
made his confession to him, after which, he 
wished to receive. While zealous Father Gi- 
unta rejoiced greatly at so much devotion, Mar 
garet, better informed, mourned over it in her 
cell. She knew that the apparent devotion of 
the unhappy man was an enormous and double 
sarrilege, occasioned by his false shame v-hich 



SAINT MARGAKET OF GORTON A. 199 

induced him to conceal his worst faults from the 
confessor. As Father Giunta visited Margaret 
that day, she, ardent with zeal, and bathed in 
tears, told him distinctly the facts concealed by 
the sacrilegious man, and bade him find him to 
bring him back to God by a better confession. 
The disconsolate Father hastened away, and, 
finding the unhappy man still reluctant to accuse 
himself of all, began to accuse him, naming each 
of the hidden sins, and all the internal arid ex 
ternal circumstances revealed by Margaret. The 
wretched man, horror-struck at so just and min 
ute a revelation, blushing for ill advised shame, 
washed it away in his tears, and making a sincere 
confession, avowed his gratitude and reverence 
to Margaret, who had been so miraculously ser 
viceable to him. 

Many others in distant countries were greatly 
aided by her prophetic lights, whereby discov 
ering their perverse love, and God s imminent 
scourges, she interceded with the Almighty to 
remove the punishment and its cause, obtaining 
their conversion and compunction. 

Many of her broken sentences, accompanied 
by bitter sighs, showed her general knowledge 
of the many faults, which then contaminated all 
classes of men, and of the sanguinary wars 
and mortal pestilences which in consequence 



200 THE LIFE OK 

soon after plunged in grief the whole Christian 
world. Yet of these we cannot specify any, be 
cause she concealed all this even from her con 
fessor, to whom she revealed only those lights 
which might lead to illusion, or required co 
operation for successful operation. She was 
more reluctant to reveal even these, and sought 
anxiously to conceal her gifts even from her 
confessor, who avowed that he had to resort to 
stratagems, to delude her humility into the dis 
covery of her .own gifts; and that he had to use 
express commands. By this means he elicited 
from her all that we have hitherto related, and 
will hereafter relate in the course of this history. 
On the Feast of Saints Chrysanthus and Daria 
in October, Jesus commanded her that no matter 
how afflicted and weak she should be, she should 
still persevere in recalling the sinful, because 
on that day he infused into her a special gift, by 
which she should permanently discern present 
secrets, and divine the future ; declaring that he 
enriched her with this great gift as a reward 
for that singular innocence which her austere 
and fervent penance had at last implanted in her 
Bonl. So much may even a most sinful soul 
purify itself! And to this may a great sinner 
rise, if her penance equals her sin fulness. 
"Where sin has abounded, grace has super- 
abounded." 



8AINT MARGARK I OF CORTONA. 201 



BOOK III. 
MARGARET S DEATH AND MIRACLES. 



CHAPTER I . 

HER LAST ILLNESS. 

THE sweet- foretastes of heaven so often en 
joyed by Margaret in her ecstatic moments, as 
they increased her love for heaven, disengaged 
her from earth, which compared to paradise, she 
saw incapable of transforming her all into God, 
and uniting herself to him, never to be diverted 
more by distractions, or separated by sin ; and as 
this immutable security was the greatest happi 
ness which she envied in the saints in heaven, 
so the opposite uncertainty was the worst calam 
ity which she deplored in the struggling mem 
bers of the church militant; and she deplored it 
so much, that for this alone from the moment of 
her conversion, she shrunk from the promise of 
a long life, and rejoiced at the threats of antici 
pated death a horror and joy increased in her 
daily by that cruel minister of her interior mar- 



202 TJ1K I.IKE Ot 

tyrdorn, the continual fear of falling into sin. 
Hence, as she asked no grace so ardently of her 
Jesus, as to be preserved from all fault, so there 
was no prayer of hers more frequent than to be 
soon taken out of this life. To these frequent 
and urgent appeals she did not always receive 
the same answer from her Jesus : sometimes he 
told her that a long life was more expedient for 
her, that her continued suffering of pain and 
trials might purge her from all remnant of sin, 
and better adorn her with all virtue ; at other 
times he encouraged her to conform her will to 
God s, and to rejoice to live as long as she was 
at peace with him. Once he asked her: "And 
what will these little sheep of thine do without 
thee?" She quickly replied : "They will be as 
sisted by thee, O Lord, the best of shepherds." 
But, finally, a year before her blessed death, the 
Sunday after Epiphany, he gave her the longed 
for assurance that her departure from this world 
and her entrance into heaven were at hand ; 
saying: "Know, O daughter, that my Mother 
Mary, my precursor Saint John the Baptist, thy 
Father Francis, thy beloved Magdalene, with all 
the Court of heaven, continually pray rne to 
hasten thy entrance into heaven and I am re 
solved soon to grant them this satisfaction.* 
Margaret, rendered ; >yful and exultant by this 



SAINT MARGAKhiT OF COKTONA. 203 

security, hastened to increase her fervor and 
multiply her austerities ; but these were stih 
more increased by God himself, who visited her 
with such excruciating pain, such burning fever, 
as soon to deprive her of all strength, and oblige 
her to surrender at discretion on her hard couch 
to her pain. Her soul rejoiced the more her 
body suffered. Conscious that the more the body 
was consumed by these torments, the more weak 
became the bonds that prevented her soaring to 
the bosom of her God, and seeing herself now 
so near him, she conceived such joy that she for 
got the excruciating anguish of her suffering 
body. As this insensibility increased, Margaret, 
panting more than ever for suffering, endeavored 
to distract her mind from this pleasing thought, 
and she besought her Jesus to temper these joy 
ous lights, that she might die in pain like him, 
as she had ever lived crucified with him. Jesus 
heard her, so that in a familiar colloquy with 
her, he assured her that she would in those 
months, more than at any other time, partake 
of tho full martyrdom of his passion, so acute 
would then, be her, bodily pains, so fearful the 
afflictions of rnind ; and such both really were. 
There was not a member in her body but was 
racked with cruel pain ; yet the most afflicted 
parts were the inside of her mouth and throat: 



204 THE LIFE OF 

there an acrid humor gnawed and inflamed the 
quick flesh, enkindling burning fever, presenting 
a variety of symptoms, agitating her night and 
day. and keeping her in constant, unremitting 
suffocation. Whenever these pains relaxed for 
a moment, invigorated by her zeal, she rose from 
what was rather her rack than her bed, and, di 
rected by her companion, hastened whither the 
poverty of others summoned her. God wished 
to attest her great charity by a beautiful miracle, 
the last time that she practiced it. She had gone 
down into the city to visit a sick child and to 
console its afflicted parents. Having effected 
her charitable design, she wished, on her way to 
her poor hut, to take leave of the nuns of San- 
tuccio, so called, whom she loved dearly, because 
she saw them full of love for Jesus their spouse. 
She called them then to the parlor, and spent 
some time in devout conference to their mutual 
delight ; and as a last pledge of their constant 
reciprocal love, she received from them an aid 
and left them a prodigy. The desired journey 
accomplished, the long discourse held, and held 
with all the ardor of her inflamed heart, had en 
tirely exhausted her strength ; so that to recover 
enough to drag herself back to her hut, she asked 
them in charity for a sup of wine. The poor 
auns not having any then, sought and soon jb 



SAINT MARGARET OF COKTOA A 205 

tained it from a stranger : Margaret took a little, 
and giving back the rest, told them with a pleas 
ing smile to throw it in the cask. The obedient 
religious soon threw it in, but did not so quickly 
draw it out; for it so multiplied, that drawing 
from it daily for the common use of the monas 
tery, it supplied more than the cask could have 
held if brimming full. A multiplication the 
more pleasing to these good religious, as it was 
a truer presage of the lasting multiplied graces, 
Avhich the grateful Margaret was to pour from 
heaven on that favorite community. 

Ileaching her cell by the aid of her compan 
ion s arms, all her torments assailed her again, 
and never ceased to rack her more from day to 
day, till by their intensity, they separated the 
joul from the body a disunion that would natu 
rally have taken place much sooner, as nature 
could not have maintained a soul in so racked a 
body. The Almighty alone maintained it, wish 
ing, for the greater lustre of Margaret s sanctity, 
to renew in her the wonders of the bush re 
maining fresh and alive amid the devouring 
flames. So her Angel Guardian assured her on 
the Feast of the Purification, that is twenty days 
before the expiration of this prodigy of her mi 
raculous life. "As gold in the furnace hath God 
tried his elect." 
18 



206 THE LIFE OF 

O H A P T K R II. 
HER LAST TEMPTATIONS. 

EVKN more than by bodily pain was the poor 
sick Margaret afflicted in mind all that year ; dis 
eased humors formed maladies in the body, but 
still more did the envious devils excite tempta 
tions in her soul, either by secret fraud or open 
assault. They began to trouble her with scru 
ples as to her present life; because in conse 
quence of her total debility and mortal languor, 
which kept her prostrate on her couch, she was 
no longer present at the offices of the church, 
nor used her hair cloth, nor her discipline, nay 
was often unable even to accomplish the number 
of prayers formerly prescribed by her Jesus. 
This scruple troubled her more, as she was then 
deprived of her good confessor, so dextrous and 
fortunate in calming her : God having disposed, 
for the greater exercise of her resignation, that 
important affairs should unavoidably keep Fa 
ther Giunta away from Cortona almost the whole 
year. For the very reason that it was so or 
dained by God, Margaret accepted this absence 
with heroic resignation, and such confidence in 
the Divine aid, that she obtained even more than 
ahe hoped. Her Jesus appeared to assure her 



SAINT MAKGAKET OF GORTON A. 207 

that, in her last moments, she should be assisted 
by her desired confessor, whose place he would 
meanwhile fulfill in her regard. O happy one I 
When then the devils indiscreetly troubled 
her with .this scruple, He hastened to calm her. 
The first time that, as we know, this happened 
was on Low Sunday, when remembering her in 
ability to fulfill her usual devout exercises on 
that day, she began, in order to compensate as 
best she might, to discourse of holy things with 
her companion ; but Jesus wished her to con 
verse with him ; for ravishing her in ecstasy in 
the rnidst of her discourse, he said: "What 
wilt thou, O my daughter ? Fear not, I thy 
Creator am with thee ; and I so rejoice in thy 
present state that I bless thee in all thy works." 
"Ah ! how can that be, O Lord," replied Mar 
garet, still influenced by her doubts, " when sick 
ness withdraws me from any service to thee? n 
"Exercised, rather shouldst thou say, fulfil ing 
all I ask of thee : thy food, daughter, thy 
drink, thy sleep, thy watching, thy silence, thy 
seasonable conversation, the whole tenor of thy 
life is a continual prayer. Because thou dost 
all with a sincere desire of obeying me, and with 
a sovereign hatred of offending me; hence, I 
bless thee, thy love, and thy very cell, and as 
sure thee that thou art a true light which, in ita 



208 THE LIFE OF 

ascent to heaven, will shine brightly an.ong the 
purest virgins, and in its setting on earth will 
enlighten many blind sinners, who will return 
contrite and converted to me." 

Jesus afforded her a similar comfort on another 
occasion, when the devils kept her sad and dis 
consolate with the apprehension thai the cessa 
tion of her usual austerities rendered her less plea 
sing than at first to God. Appearing to her all 
gladsome, he assured her that her actual submis 
sion and the denial of her own will were of much 
greater merit than her past voluntary penances; 
which injure rather than help the one who con 
fides too much in them, and indiscreetly gives 
himself up, as Egidia her companion, and Gia- 
nello her votary, had both learned by experience, 
having imprudently imitated her first rigor, 
having both become unwise self-slayers, dying 
of their indiscreetness. These divine proofs, 
comprehended by Margaret, quickly calmed her, 
and recalled by Him strongly assured her: to 
replunge her in the tempest, the devils labored 
to prevent her recalling them, and to take away 
all belief in them, by making her suspect them 
illusions ; a suspicion which gained strength 
from her very feelings of humility, and from the 
vile imaginations of her old irregular life, 
which fancy then vividly depicted ; suggesting 



SAINT MARUAKUT OF GORTON A. 

to her, at the very time, that if she had really 
been so favored by God, these favors would have 
entirely exempted her from these filthy phan 
toms. And here fiercer than ever came up her 
dark fear, either that she had repented and freed 
herself, or at least that she would fall into some 
new error. 

This diabolical attack on poor Margaret was 
more frequent and powerful than the former, and 
Jesus himself contributed to wound her the more, 
to the greater scorn of the devil and the greater 
glory of Margaret, withdrawing from her in these 
sad trials not only his visible presence, but also 
all sensible comfort of devotion, leaving her in 
aridity and desolation. Yet He who, according to 
the Eoyal Psalmist, never turns away his eyes 
from his servants to succor them in season,* gave 
her as much strength as he withdrew of devotion, 
reviving her faith, strengthening her hope, so that 
with this shield on her arms, this sword in her 
hand, she might come forth from every assault an 
unconquered heroine, combat magnanimously, re 
sist constantly, triumph gloriously, singing in her 
exultation, "If armies should stand arrayed 
against me, my heart will not fear: if battle 
should rise against me, in Him will I hope. Put 

* Oculi Domini super justos, el aures ejus in precea eorum. 
18* 



210 THE LIFE OF 

me beside thee, and let every man s hand figl 
against me." Nevertheless the devils, fiercer than 
ever, returned to the assault with open force, and 
so terribly, that I know of no other dying Saint 
that was ever so assailed. And God permitted 
it, in my opinion, in order that in Margaret s 
agony every converted sinner might learn not 
to be discouraged at any great risk of death, nor 
to be too sure of the pardon of past sins. " Of 
the forgiven sin be not without fear;" because, 
though remitted and cancelled so far as regards 
the guilt of the sin, they never cease to cry 
vengeance to Divine justice: "My sin is ever 
against me," exacting, that he who had more out 
raged God, by succumbing to temptation, should 
show himself more obedient, by triumphing over 
worse temptations. " Wherein a man sins, there 
in shall he be punished." 

The Sunday after Whitsunday, having to her 
great joy received Holy Communion in bed, 
ravished from her senses, she heard from her Jesus 
these words: "I am the bread of life: he that 
eateth me, the same shall live by me ; behold the 
Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the 
world ;" and then he added, " that it was most 
pleasing to hirn for a soul to continue in the 
desert of this world, to suffer more for his love, 
where one word of hers would have more aided 



SAINT MARGARET OF GORTON A. 211 

another s salvation, than many declamations 
of preachers." Although Margaret was then 
most anxious to die, alarmed at the dangers of 
the present life ; nevertheless intent on that alone 
which she discovered to be most pleasing to her 
God, she at once rivalled the great Saint Martin, 
and promptly showed herself ready to prolong 
her tribulations in this laborious exile: "Lord, 
if I am still useful to thy people, I do not re 
fuse the labor, thy will be done." Jesus was 
pleased with her offer, but accepted it only so 
far as to declare it his will, in the short 
period she had yet to live, to make her experi 
ence all those pains and trials, that could have 
pierced her successively in a long series of years ; 
and he suddenly executed his sad announce 
ment. 

Iler mind was suddenly darkened, her heart 
rent, and her whole mind disturbed, and she be 
held before her in frightful form a real demon, 
which dancing around the room, and clapping 
its hands, arid laughing aloud, pretended to have 
overcome Margaret, and to be about to bear her 
guilty soul to hell. She shuddered at this sight, 
and still more at the fear of having fallen into 
some new fault. Palpitating and groaning, she 
turned to the priest then seasonably beside her, 
and told him what she saw. The good priest 



212 THE LIFE OF 

endeavored to bring the demon into subjection and 
to infuse courage into Margaret s heart ; but hia 
words did not banish the audacity of the devil 
or diminish Margaret s discouragement. Mean 
while her holy Angel Guardian came up, and 
echoing through the air these words : " Let the 
warrior of God arise against the daring adver 
sary," also appeared visibly, and at once impe 
riously asked the malignant spirit : " What hast 
thou to do with this soul which God wishes in 
heaven among his Seraphim?" The devil laughed 
at him, and audaciously protested that she waa 
to be his companion in hell, and that he ex 
pected her as long as he saw it united to the 
body ; and he rushed towards the bed, as if to 
seize-her. The holy angel repulsed him, and to 
encourage Margaret, terrified with this great 
fright, he said : " Daughter of Jerusalem, fear 
not the vain efforts of the malignant one; con 
quered and subdued he stands beneath the feet 
of Almighty God, who has chosen thy soul aa 
his impregnable fortress, and I remain to defend 
it." Margaret obediently endeavored not to fear, 
yet she always felt a greater dread ; because she 
constantly saw that vile demon insulting over 
her. Ho not only became furious, but planting 
himself near, vomited every insult which his 
implacable hatred suggested. The priest then 



SAINT MAKGARK J OF COKTONA. 213 

present, also terribly alarmed, declared that he 
heard this- " What is that vile beast doing here? 
After living like a filthy wolf, does she pretend 
to go to heaven among the pure lambs? This 
is surely not the law promulgated by God, whom 
by this presumption of thine thou dost outrage 
more than all men by their sins : hence he is 
justly more thy enemy than the enemy of all 
other sinners. And dost thou hope with such 
perverse sentiments to be received by God s wis 
dom ? I possess it and not thou." The holy angel 
denied this, calling him alone full of the serpent s 
malice: but he, deriding the denial, cried, " What 
a beautiful vase is this, truly worthy to be the 
throne of God s wisdom! Oh ! did he but per-* 
mit rne, I would suffocate thee in an instant and 
tear thee to pieces." 

Such barkings without a bite convinced Mar 
garet of his impotence, and she began to feel 
less fear. Seizing at this, the crafty demon 
passed from threats to wiles, and bowing obse 
quiously would fain be one of the most favorite 
pages of her future court. Margaret despised 
him. saying to him in derision, that she was 
ashamed of such courtiers, whose leader was so 
filthy and deformed. The devil piqued, retorted 
with this imprecation : " Mayest thou once come 
to see me 1" but the angel replied that this could 



214 THE I. IKK OK 

never be ; but he more ferocious and savage re 
peated : " Yes, yes, I shall see her, and I hope 
to lead her thither now ; r and dancing agait> 
around the room, he again rushed at her more 
impetuously than before. Provoked at such 
pride, the holy angel used his own superiority 
against him, and bid him not to venture to con 
tend with him ; but that he should sink hidden 
in his own smoke, and enveloped in his own 
flames; and that as an excuse for his present de 
feat, he should tell Lucifer that God had so 
strengthened his Margaret, that all hell in arms 
against her would have failed, still more the ef 
forts of a single devil. "And is it possible," 
howled the despairing demon, ;t that we who have 
conquered so many souls, are to be defeated by 
this vile and once so guilty woman ? "But she 
is now holier than she has been sinful, and in 
punishment for having been so incredulous to 
wards her, you shall ever receive more shameful 
defeats from her, even when dead and buried. 
This say I, who am not a liar like thee, nor am 
I weak as thou art impotent, for the Lord gives 
and grants to me dominion and superiority over 
all such as thou." " Oh, see the beautiful hu 
mility ! In us it would have been suddenly de 
tested by thee as most exquisite pride." And 
justly," replied the angel, and justly, because 



SAINT MARGARKT OF GORTON A. 



215 



your ambition aims to exalt yourselves, while 
our gratitude se^ks only to magnify the Author 
of all our good ; hence our praises are as different 
from thy boasts as ascending from descending. 
We advance hourly in the gifts of God, and you 
are ever deeper set in your obstinacy to become 
daily worse, impious that you are." 

The proud demon at last silently disappeared, 
and then the holy angel turning to Margaret: 
" Does it seem to thee, daughter, a great blow 
now received by thy insolent assailant? The 
proud one tastes the bitter fruits of his audacity, 
and his unequalled temerity in presuming of 
himself against thee. And thou, O daughter, to 
conquer him still more, take this standard, 
adorned with two crosses, one white and one red, 
symbols of the water and blood that flowed from, 
the wounded side of thy Lord ; and by the aid 
of this rely on triumphing." Saying this, he too 
disappeared from Margaret s eyes, and she, with 
a burning sigh, sent after him all the affectionate 
thanks which her grateful heart already prepared 
to utter for the aid given and the gift bestowed; 
and comprehending the mysterious signification 
of the latter, she wished at once to profit by it. 

Although weary and fatigued by the fright 
that she had undergone, and the length of the 
conflict, she made the priest sit down beside her, 



210 THE LIFE OF 

and besought him to discuss her conscience with 
her, confessed to him with the most exact minute 
ness, shedding more tears than she uttered words. 
The devil was so enraged at it, that to divert her 
from that confession, he again appeared in the 
room more menacingly than ever, and amid dark 
globes of flame, vomited, among others, this blas 
phemy : " Cursed be He that has granted thee so 
subtle and delicate a conscience." She resisted 
this attack no less triumphantly than the former 
one, but remained most scrupulous in conse 
quence of her resistance, imagining that she had 
given way to too great fear of the tempter, and 
not sufficiently repelled the temptation ; so that 
she was more afflicted at the probability of this 
fault than at the sight of the fierce demon ; she 
was fainting with grief and would have died of 
it, had not her good angel soon appeared to console 
her. He re-appeared and assured her that she 
had fulfilled her duty, and that when overcome 
by fear she was unable to answer him, he had 
replied for her. Margaret, greatly consoled by 
this, blessed the Almighty. 

But God, who wished Margaret s life a still 
more perfect copy of our Lord s, constantly agi 
tated by vicissitudes of pleasure and of pain, 
the latter more bitter as the former were sweeter, 
nermitted the devil to disturb this consolation 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 217 

by exciting in her heart another trouble. She 
had always had a most clear comprehension of 
God s sanctity, that implacable enemy of every 
shadow of fault; hence, conscious of the impro 
priety and pain of a soul which, separated from 
the body, appears before God s tribunal, though 
pure, yet not fully purified, had adopted the 
sentiment of Job, to wish to hide in hell rather 
than appear in the Divine sight not entirely 
cleansed from all guilt; and the devils heighten 
ing this knowledge, and at the same time exag 
gerating her faults, armed against her this very 
sentiment, and with such success, that her ap 
proaching death, which had hitherto been the 
delightful allurement of her most joyful hopes, 
and loved incentive of every solid comfort, now 
suddenly became for Margaret an object of black 
horror. Recollecting the standard given her by 
the angel, she used it the more frequently as she 
was more terribly assailed by that fear. 

In this way, God in his providence increased 
her merit through the grace of the sacraments, 
and purged her from all stain by the virtue of 
the saving laver of his Divine blood an advan 
tage which, converting into a conquest for Mar 
garet these pretended triumphs of the devils, in 
flamed them still more with rage, and incited 
them to augment this harassing fear by the very 
19 



218 THE LIFE OF 

means by which she diminished it; giving her 
to understand that her multiplied confessions 
did not remove her stains, because she did not 
explain herself sufficiently nor feel due contri 
tion. 

Her loving Jesus interposed new shields to 
ward off this darf, which wounded most acutely 
the anguished heart of the disconsolate dying 
Saint. He sent back to her her good confessor 
Father Giunta, who, by the minute knowledge 
which he had of Margaret s whole life, aided her 
better to examine her whole conscience, and by 
the authority which he possessed over her, ob 
tained greater credit than others in what he 
said, and by the tender devotion which he bore 
her, assisted her with more assiduity. To 
him then she could confess as much, and as she 
wished; and she confessed not only her daily 
faults, but still more, her old debauchery, with 
as much precision of detail, as much profuse 
weeping, as though she had never accused her- 
self of them, nor repented of them. At his 
hands too, she could communicate with the fre 
quency which she desired; and she wished it so 
frequently, that from the seventeenth of January 
till her death she received daily. And in these 
communions her Jesus was more liberal than 
ever, in loving colloquy ecstatic ravishment, and 



SAINT MARGAHKT OF CORTONA. 

sweet consolation. On the Saturday alter the 
Feast of St. Anthony, the Abbot, while after 
communion she was in a delicious ecstasy with 
her Jesus, she was heard breaking forth into this 
supplication: "Oh! cleanse me, my Jesus, from 
every ancient stain, preserve me from every new 
fall, and that I may never offend thee more, take 
me out of this world, and if it is thy will that I 
still remain here, grant me every day thy divine 
body, without which, I feel myself dying of 
wearisomeness." 

Her holy angel, too, kindly came to calm her 
fears ; he did so on Candlemas day, when besides 
what we mentioned in the preceding chapter, he 
exposed in a long conference the degrees of true 
love of God. In this conference and in the com 
munion made a little before, such exceeding joy 
overflowed her heart, that the angel did not hes 
itate to assert that in that hour she enjoyed a 
foretaste of Paradise, granted to her by her Jesus, 
as a reward for her special love for chastity, and 
for her special reverence to him in his Sacrament. 
This beautiful calm, however, lasted but a 
short time, it was soon disturbed by a darker 
tempest. When the angel departed, she exam 
ined herself on the three degrees of love ex 
plained by him ; but seeming to herself not to 
have attained any of them her dark fears of 



2?0 THE LIFE OF 

speed} death and menacing judgment, came furi 
ously to agitate her. But they vanished as 
quickly as they were furious, dissipated by the 
master hand of Father Giunta, and then, by a 
joyful vision that appeared to her. Her con 
fessor encouraged her to rely entirely on the 
blood of her crucified Lord, who, by his merits, 
would supply all her deficiencies ; and in the as 
sistance of her patron saints, who would all 
hasten to introduce her into paradise. At this 
word Paradise, she was borne away from the 
senses, and beheld the divine Mother Mary in 
the act of beseeching Jesus to conduct Margaret 
quickly to heaven, and Jesus consent, regarding 
Margaret with a smiling countenance. This gra 
cious smile of Jesus filled her heart with joy, 
certain that Jesus never shows a smiling coun 
tenance to one who is his enemy by sin. 

But in this sweet joy the crafty demons did 
not long leave her. Lucifer sent a huge band 
of them from hell against her, to make their last 
effort to overcome her ; and these all at once in 
vested the poor dying Saint with a host of various 
temptations ; but the one most urged was that of 
despair, bringing up all her old faults, never 
purged they saivi by her, because all penance was 
insufficient except the eternal pain of hell, adding 
that Gcd had already condemned her to it, sur- 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 221 

rendering her entirely to Lucifer, who, in the 
exercise of his authority, had brutally deceived 
her all through life, flattering her with deceitful 
apparitions, with lying assurances of pardon 
granted, of merits attained ; that as she had 
ever served him, she should now go to him to 
join in cursing forever that God, who had irre 
vocably condemned her. In this terriltle strait 
she did nothing but invoke her Jesus; and pro 
test that in his blood, his merits alone, she placed 
her hopes, more certain of obtaining Paradise 
from his mercy, as she was of deserving hell from 
his justice. " He, he shall be my Savior." 

And he was her Savior so graciously that he 
came in person to expel for ever from that cell 
all that insolent crew, and to reward the constancy 
of his Margaret with the announcement of the hour 
and moment, when he wished to introduce into 
heaven "her triumphant soul, saying : " Daughter, 
fear no more the snares of the enemy ; he flees 
away vanquished, and I shall ever be with thee: 
prepare to depart from this world ; because 
during the present month of February on the 
twenty-second day thou shalt pass to heaven at 
dawn." Then she could exultingly answer with 
the Royal Psalmist : " Thou hast made with me 
a sign for good, that they who hate me may see 
19* 



222 THE LIFE OF 

and be confounded : for thou, Lord, hast helped 
and assisted me."* 



CHAPTER III. 

HER DEATH AND BURIAL. 

THE days which Margaret survived this happy 
announcement she spent, as far as the increasing 
bodily pain permitted, exulting in soul, and 
always absorbed in a most joyful ecstasy, which 
not only anticipated for her heart the joys of the 
saints in heaven, but even gave her body a hue 
of Paradise. Her countenance, which had been 
fleshless and cadaverous, now seemed fresh and 
ruddy; so that to judge by the complexion, she 
seemed rather a blooming maiden than a dying 
and exhausted woman. So judged in his admi 
ration that devout Franciscan, Father Conrad, 
who, at the news of her mortal illness, set out 
anxiously, eager to see once more a Saint so dear 
to him ; but failed to reach her before those days. 
This repute drew many others, Secular and Re- 

* Fccisti mecum signum in bonum, ut videant qui odcrunt 
tnc, ct confundantur : quoniam tu Domine adjuvasli me, et 
consolatus es me. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 

gular, to Gorton a ; but more than the stran 
gers did the grief-stricken Cortonese flock to the 
hut of their expiring Saint, all eager to relieve 
aer wants and receive her last embraces. But as 
he was almost constantly in ecstatic colloquies 
with the citizens of heaven, she could give little 
ear to men on earth, and rejecting every re 
storative except the Sacrament of the Eucharist, 
she was unable to receive any assistance from 
them. Yet in those few moments when she was 
not rapt to heaven, she kindly replied to all, 
lovingly thanked all, encouraged all by assert 
ing that the way of salvation was easy ; filled 
all with fervor by saying, "Little children, love 
our Lord Jesus Christ :" and as an exercise of 
this love she enjoined the Cortonese to pluck out 
resolutely every germ of sedition, in order to 
perfect that concord so dearly purchased by her: 
* My little children, love one another; for this 
is the commandment of the Lord ; if this be 
done, it suffices:"* words ever imprinted in her 
heart, because they had ever been on the lips of 
her beloved Saint John, the Evangelist. 

But with none did she converse with more cor 
dial affection than with her venerated friars, who 



* Filioli rnei diligite aliTutrum : ho< enira praeceptune 
Domini est : si hoc fiat, sufficit. 



224 THE LIFE OF 

had been so constant in directing her, so punctual 
in providing for her, so careful to defend her, and 
now so assiduous attending on her. The de 
vout crowd, conscious of this debt of gratitude, 
(locked around to obtain the desired favor of 
being introduced to the bedside of tlieir beloved 
Saint, some to recommend their necessities, others 
to receive her blessing, and others simply to see 
her; and the charitable Fathers satisfied them all 
in the most becoming manner. 

In this way passed all these days. Towards 
evening on the last day of her life, Margaret asked 
Father Giunta to fortify her with Extreme Unc 
tion, which she then received with most fervent 
acts of devotion, and with most ardent affection 
for her God, melting into most devout tears, so 
as to make the bystanders also weep with com 
punction ; and their grief became more bitter, 
when at the completion of the sacred rite, Mar 
garet still weeping turned to them, and sighing 
asked pardon for all her past errors, and begged 
them not to refuse her as a last favor to thank 
God who had been so merciful to her. Then 
raised in most sublime contemplation, she passed 
the rest of that night relieving her ecstatic heart 
with her beloved patron saints, all descended 
from heaven to console her in her last agony, 
and welcome her blessed soul. Informed by 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 225 

them that the longed for dawn was at hand, 
she again received absolution from her confes 
sor, and also the holy Viaticum, and with it in her 
breast she expired exulting, and her exulting 
body remained with a beautiful srnile on her lips. 
Thus smilingly she died, who had ever lived 
bewailing her sins. "Blessed are they that 
mourn." 

At daybreak of the twenty -second of Febru 
ary in the year 1298, the twenty-third year of 
jer conversion and the fiftieth of her age, Mar 
garet accomplished, according to our Lord s pre 
diction, the course of her painful mortal life, and 
began the never ending one of eternity : more 
glorious in heaven, as the former was more tried 
on earth, and the more adorned and rich in 
palms, as she was more exercised in battle. The 
glorious entrance of her disenthralled spirit into 
heaven was revealed by God to a venerable con 
templative, then in the Citta di Castello, a not 
unfrequent home of heroic souls ; and God or 
dered him to publish punctually all he saw for 
the glory of his new Magdalene. Obedient to 
this he declared that he had seen Margaret s soul, 
splendid in beauty, surrounded by hosts of 
blessed spirits, enter heaven, accompanied by 
multitudes of other souls delivered from Purga 
tory *>y her merits. 



226 THE LIFE OF 

While this splendid triumph was soler. mined 
in heaven, there was joy too in Margaret s poor 
cell, where her body, by the miraculous sweetness 
which it exhaled, produced in all hearts a de 
vout exultation; and the sight of her cheerful 
and smiling countenance banished tears from 
every eye. Full of devotion and joy, her good; 
companions began to lay out that sacred body, 
and clothe it in her beloved Tertiary habit. And 
thus attired the good friars, who jealously guarded 
it, were forced to expose it to the eyes and kisses 
of the crowds who gathered as the sad news of 
her death spread. Each one entered the cell as 
a sanctuary, and on beholding that beautiful 
countenance, was inflamed with love for God and 
hatred for sin ; the kisses imprinted on those 
hands and feet could not satisfy this childlike 
devotion; and as none felt reluctant to approach, 
all grieved to tear themselves away. Without 
the house the swaying crowd of afflicted people 
inconsolably bewailed her loss, deploring, some 
the supplier of their wants, others their consoler 
in trouble, the healer of their maladies, the re- 
vealer of their secrets, their mistress, their soul 
of souls. But she, by new consolation which 
she infused into their hearts, by new compuuc- 
tion which she excited in their minJs, gave all 
secure tokens of that better patronage which 



SAINT MAUGARET OF CORTONA. 227 

they would eternally possess at her hands in 
heaven. 

Meanwhile the higher magistrates of the city. 
to return by public honors the public debt con 
tracted by all towards Margaret, decreed that 
her body should be embalmed, and invested in 
precious purple: that it should be accompanied 
to the church by all the secular and regular 
clergy, the magistrates and the nobility, and 
after a sumptuous funeral, should be laid in a 
sepulchre newly opened for her. The decree 
was received with applause, and was carried out 
with joy ; but when they came to the interment, 
then all opposed and resisted, so that the body 
had to be left unburied for several days, exhaling 
constantly that odor of Paradise, and diffusing 
miraculous graces, which daily increased the con 
course, and thereby the difficulty of interring it. 
But the good friars, anxiously fearful lest it 
should be taken from their hands, secured it only 
by force and by favor of night, when they de 
posited that dear pledge entire, well sealed to 
prevent doubt, in the appointed sepulchre within 
the oratory, erected by Margaret herself in honor 
of Saint Basil. Here by the trump of astonish 
ing miracles, God soon declared, that of Marga* 



228 THE LIFE OF 

ret a too had he said by the lips of Isaias, " And 
her sepulchre shall be glorious."* 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE VENERATION FOR HER BODY AND ITS IN 
CORRUPT STATE. 

THE oratory of Saint Basil soon became a 
beautiful image of the ancient Probatica, for as 
in that, magnificent porch in Jerusalem, "there 
was a great multitude of sick waiting for the 
moving of the water, "f so to those sacred walls 
flocked daily all kinds of sick and ailing, in se 
cure expectation that Margaret, moved by their 
fervent supplications, would obtain them relief 
in their distress; and so soon did her wonder 
working power obtain it, that none went away 
disappointed, or not obliged to leave some gift 
as an authentic document of gratitude to his 
glorious patroness. 

It is not clear from ancient documents whether 
her first tornb was above or under ground; but 
it is certain that then, or a few years after, a large 

* Et erit sepulchruin cjus gloriosum. f John v. 3. 



8AINT MARGAKK1 OF CORTOJSA. 

vault was opened in the wall of that oratory 
like a closet, and in it was inserted an iron chase 
grated in front, in which that fragrant and in 
corrupt body was placed, protected by glass, 
which, preserving it from the dust, enabled the 
devout pilgrims from that and other parts to see 
it; and as their veneration constantly increased, 
they kept adorning it with richer ornaments. 
Among others, they erected over this chase a 
magnificent marble shrine, such as is now seen 
in the same oratory, where it has stood in the 
sacristy for more than a century. The sculpture 
and painting of the shrine are Gothic. The bass 
reliefs on the exterior portray : first, her taking 
the habit of Tertiary ; second, her stripping her 
self of her own clothes to cover a poor woman ; 
third, the assurance given her by Jesus of the 
predestination of her son; fourth, her funeral 
rendered glorious by the cure of the possessed 
and the sick. The interior is also adorned with 
bass reliefs, in which you behold the statue of 
the Saint sculptured of natural size, lying bo- 
neath a pavilion of marble, supported by two 
angels with two columns, over which is the An 
nunciation of Our Lady ; and it terminates above 
in two pyramidal arches in Gothic form. The 
sides of the shrine are adorned with paintings: 
that on the right being Jesus in the act of bless- 
20 



230 THE LIFE OF 

ing; that on the left Mary with the infant Jesus 
in her arms. 

But as de\ otion to Margaret increased daily, 
with it grew the desire of all to see without any 
obstacle, and to touch that beautiful and palpable 
body. Accordingly, the deputies, to meet the 
general desire, on the 25th of July, 1546, ex 
tracted the undecayed body from the ancient 
chase ; and cleansing it from all dust, covered it 
with new attire, and replaced it in such a way 
that they could easily take it out and expose it 
freely to the eyes and hands of the more fervent 
and loving clients. 

In this state the venerated body continued till 
the last day of the year 1580, when with sump 
tuous pomp, and devotion still more pompous, 
it was by a public decree translated to the high 
altar of the neighboring noble church, in honor 
of Margaret, begun by the Cortonese the very 
year of her blessed death, afterwards consecrated 
and opened by an indult of Boniface VIII, and 
finally, with the approbation of Eugene IV, 
given and ceded to the Observantine Fathers on 
the following occasion. 

There came to revere the tomb of his most 
beloved Margaret, that worthy son of Saint 
Francis, that miraculous apostle of Italy, that 
renowned glorifier of the holy name of Jesus, 



SAINT MARGARET OF C ORTONA. 231 

the great Saint Bernardino of Siena. The Cor- 
tonese, knowing his great zeal, begged him to 
exercise it. among them by his fervid preaching, 
to which he assented the more readily, as it 
seemed to him an offering in honor of his bo- 
loved sister and venerated protectress, Margaret; 
arid to render them dearer to her, he rendered 
them more like her in love to Jesus, when by 
his preaching he excited in their hearts love 
equal to the ardent love which burned in his 
own beautiful heart. Yet he did not appear 
altogether satisfied : he longed to leave the body 
of his beloved Saint in a more becoming place. 
Seeing the good people docile to his insinuations, 
he one day told them modestly, that it seemed 
to him improper to keep so confined the body 
of that saint, whom God daily exalted by the 
glory of numerous prodigies: that they should 
for the present transfer it to their new church, 
and confide the direction of it permanently to 
his companions, who having become more accu 
rate observers of the Seraphic Institute, bore the 
cherished name of " Observantines." A step so 
advantageous to the honor of their Saint met all 
applause from those pious men, and they imme 
diately prepared the high altar of that church 
for the purpose, decreeing, that when all was 
ready, the translation should be made with all 



232 THE LIFE OF 

the splendor of torches and tapers, which was 
not effected before the last day of the year 1580, 
as we have stated. 

Even after the sumptuous translation, the piety 
of the Cortonese burnt more brightly, and they 
continued to adorn that altar, placing more 
securely that precious treasure which constantly 
remained incorrupt and fragrant. In Margaret the 
flesh had been the instrument of signal virtues, 
and hence God wished this fragrance as a reward 
to remain communicated for several centuries to 
one of the places consecrated by Margaret s 
abode, which afterwards became a convent of 
Franciscan Nuns of the Third Order, who under 
the title of St. Jerome cloistered themselves as 
faithful companions to Margaret, not merely in 
dress, but still more in interior virtues. These 
deposed in the judicial process, that in their court 
yard where Margaret s hut had stood, they con 
stantly perceived a fragrance inexplicable to 
them, of great relief to the senses, and still 
greater aid to the spirit, which it raised to God 
and inflamed with piety ; so that they all held it 
in special reverence, never attempting to pass it 
except on their knees or barefoot, and many also 
perceived it in their oratory, and continued there 
ecstatic whole nights, partaking of the fervor 
once kindled there in Margaret s noble heart. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 233 

But still more durable and sweeter has been 
the fragrance, which this body preserves with 
its incorruption : famous marks, which within 
a few years the Holy See has sent reliable miu- 
isters to ascertain and examine ; for when their 
royal highnesses of Tuscany made the most ear 
nest appeals to that Pontiff , Benedict XIII, to 
canonize solemnly the venerated heroine of their 
states, the Holy Father dispatched for this pur 
pose to Cortona that illustrious client of Mar 
garet, and shining light of Holy Church, Cardinal 
Corradini. On the twenty-third of January, 1724, 
after consoling his devotion by long prayer and 
the celebration of Mass before that blessed chase, 
having caused it to be opened he instantly per 
ceived that heavenly fragrance ; arid among other 
bystanders, it was perceived by the most eminent 
Crescenzi, then Secretary of the Sacred Rites, and 
having carefully examined the sacred body, he 
found it somewhat stiffened by time, less dis 
colored by death, and not at all touched by cor 
ruption. Then taking the glass urn in which 
were deposited the parts removed at the time 
of the embalming, he found this incorrupt and 
unaltered; and the Cardinal, presenting it to the 
light, saw that the humor in the interior had dis 
solved into a rosy liquor, the rest remaining in 
its natural dense and solid state. When this was 
20* 



234 THE LIFE OF 

reported and discussed in the full Congregation of 
Rites, it was considered by all, as it really was, a 
most signal miracle, our Lord having ordained 
that, as he had rendered her soul so like his own, 
her body too should partake the resemblance, 
fulfilling his own prediction : " Thou wilt not 
permit thy Holy one to see corruption." 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA- 235 



BOOK III. CONTINUED. 

MIRACLES WROUGHT BY SAINT MAR- 
GARET. 



CHAPTER V. 
HER MIRACLES AT CORTONA. 

LIBERAL as were the Cortonese ever in their 
homage to Margaret, she has been more lavish 
of miraculous favors ; as a loving mother gives 
more caresses to her beloved child than she re 
ceives. She performed not a few of these mira 
cles while still alive, but some were concealed 
by her humility. They remained unknown from 
the carelessness of others in observing and re 
cording them. But the resuscitation of a dead 
child was so wonderful, that it could neither be 
concealed by Margaret nor dissembled by others. 
An unfortunate woman found her child dead in 
bed, and was the more horror-struck as she 
deemed herself guilty ; she ran in tears to im 
plore Margaret s aid, that wonted refuge of the 



238 THE LIFE OF 

afflicted. Moved by her tears and prayers, Mar 
garet raised her eyes to God, and then said : " Go 
home cheerfully, you will find your child alive 
and well," and so she found him to her great de 
light; which made not only the neighborhood 
but all Cortona join in exultation. 

Equally notorious and wonderful were many 
other miracles wrought after her entrance intc 
heaven. These shall be the subject of this chap 
ter and the next. The most ancient of these 
were examined rigorously by several bishops ; 
and then after a new discussion were authenti 
cated by Cardinal Napoleon Orsini, Legate Apos- 
tol c. The more recent ones were presented to 
the Holy See in the process of her canonization, 
so that there is no room for any man, not rash 
and incredulous, to doubt. 

In the present account, I shall, in order the 
better to conform to the gratitude of Margaret s 
most loving heart, prefer to more ancient ones, 
a miracle that happened to an ancestress of a 
noble Cortonese family, a scion of which now, by 
the common consent, bears away the palm for la 
borious efforts to exalt the name, multiply the 
clients, and increase throughout the world the 
honors of their beloved Protectress. 

Signora Costanza Angelieri Alticosi was a 
lady devoted to piety even in the married state, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 23"J 

that she not unfrequently was favored with hea 
venly apparitions; she was reduced to extremity 
by an asthma so malignant, that growing daily 
worse, it seemed to find aliment in the very re 
medies used to check it, like those poisonous 
plants which turn heaven s choicest dews to 
venom. Her disconsolate husband, Signor Ber 
nardino Orselli, advised her to have recourse to 
their most benign Margaret, who had evershowo 
herself propitious in every calamity : the devout 
lady obeyed, and the benign Saint heard her 
more condescendingly than ever. She appeared 
visibly, and with an air of majesty and affabi 
lity approaching the bed was about to open her 
breast to clear the impeded course of respiration. 
But the good lady, fearing lest the devil had come 
under an assumed form to delude her, as he had 
already done before, appearing in the form of 
Saint Francis, she repelled from her the hea 
venly physician ; and recommended herself ear 
nestly to God, but recollecting that that vile de 
mon concealed beneatli his friar s gown the uri- 
shapen limbs of a beast, to recognize him nou 
again by the same sign, she raised the garments. 
Assured by Margaret with solid proof, she allowed 
herself to be cured, and the cure was performed 
thus: the Saint opened her breast, and with a 
ladta which she held in her right hand extracted 



238 THE LIFti OF 

much putrid blood, and poured it iHto a basin 
which she held in her left hand ; then she closed 
the breast, blessed her, and vanished from her 
sight, leaving her in perfect health. Eegret at 
this sudden departure, and joy at recovering her 
health, caused Costanza to utter aloud cry, which 
heard with amazement by the husband, who had 
gone a little while before into another apartment 
to draw, made him run back in wonder a won 
der that soon gave place to joy, on hearing from 
his wife an account of what had happened, and 
seeing the manifest effects in her free breathing, 
in her clear voice, in her fresh color and vigor 
ous strength. Both extolled the miraculous de 
livery, in. honor of which they had the gracious 
prodigy announced by the preacher in the church 
on the first festival. The prodigy was continued 
so constantly by Margaret in her client, that 
she was never again troubled by the disease. 

Shortly after the death of his great penitent, 
another lady attested to Father Giunta, that she 
had been afflicted by a rupture of the abdomen, 
to which the physicians with all their remedies 
could give no relief; but that she was suddenly 
cured on her in vokin^; her belovedMargaret who, 
drying up the ulcer that had formed, closed the 
wound entirely. 

A child named Bartoluccio, five years old, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 239 

being alone near a mill, began, as children will, 
to examine all around, and without perceiving 
it was caught by a wheel, which catching him 
in its cogs so tore him, thut the poor little fellow 
was crushed in every pait of his body, and his 
eyes forced out of their sockets. The neigh 
bors ran up at his cries, and although they 
stopped the wheel as quick as they could, the 
child was so injured that it was about to expire. 
At this sight the afflicted mother invoked her 
Margaret to whom she was signally devout, and 
promised by vow to visit her altar, and leave a 
j.;ift there, if she restored her child ; and Marga 
ret immediately gave back the little one so sound, 
that by the testimony of all the astonished by 
standers there was not the least sign of wound 
or fracture in its body. 

Baccia, daughter of John Baptist Zefferini, 
gave herself in her youth so indiscreetly to the 
spiritual life and to austerity, as to ruin her con 
stitution. All the vigor of her body was pros 
trated, and her head was so injured that only by 
the greatest difficulty was she able to remain 
for a short time out of bed. Being in this 
Btate on the annual Feast of St. Margaret, and 
unable to satisfy her devotion, yet longing to 
drag he-self to venerate the tornb, she endeav 
ored in her honor to reach the nearest church, to 



240 THE LIFK OF 

hear mass and receive. While praying fervently 
near an altar of that church, Margaret appeared to 
her, and touching her lightly on the head, said: 
"There, Baccia, thou art cured, be grateful to 
God." This sight, these words filled her with 
great joy that those near could not but perceive. 
They asked the reason, arid they too exulted, on 
hearing, or rather on beholding with their owr 
eyes that sudden miracle, which not only filleo 
her mind with joy, but gave strength to hei 
body. Baccia, in acknowledgment for the favor, 
retired to a monastery, where she so piously em 
ployed her recovered health, that she lived and 
died in great repute for sanctity with her reli 
gious sisters. 

A lady called Bruna had a son strangely 
wounded in the leg ; having used in vain all the 
iprescriptions of the learned, she turned to Mar 
garet s miraculous patronage, promising by vow 
to visit her altar if she delivered her son. Mar 
garet heard her promptly ; but the mother did 
not as promptly keep her promise, so that her 
breach of faith deprived her of the grace, and 
all the dried up sores of her son re-opened. The 
penitent mother wept with real sorrow, and 
to repair her error, repeated her promise, 
and Margaret renewed the favor, but with no 
better success than before ; because not even 



SAINT MARGARET OB CORTONA. 241 

then did the giddy woman keep her vow and 
promise. Then to her greater pain the sores 
opened all worse than ever ; and the mother s 
mouth re-opened to broken promises. Comforted 
for the third time by the compassionate Mar 
garet, she at last overcome her obstinacy, ran to 
the altar, bearing her son, and proclaimed to all, 
not only Margaret s condescensions, but her own 
obstinate and wicked ingratitude. 

An incurable rupture kept a man named Bu- 
zio in perpetual anguish ; and urged more by 
pain than by his friends to appeal to Margaret, 
he commended himself to her, and soon found 
himself perfectly healed; as all who had visited 
and attended him attested under oath. 

A child named Marcuccio, aged five years and 
three months, suffered terribly from gravel ; hia 
afflicted mother vowed him to Margaret, and the 
child immediately passed a great quantity of 
blood, which permanently delivered it from the 
disease. 

Some Cortonese merchants being at sea, a 
fierce tempest arose, the captain lost heart, and 
ordered the cargo to be thrown over to lighten 
the ship. At this terrible order the merchants 
fervently implored their great Protectress; and 
she suddenly dispersed the winds, calmed the 
sea, and preserved all from destruction. 
21 



242 THE LIKK OF 

While some shepherds of Cortona were feed 
ing their flocks on the Tuscan shore, a fu 
rious torrent threatened to sweep away their 
flocks: falling on the ground they all promised 
the Saint to visit her tornb if she preserved them 
from those waters, and immediately the torrent 
deviated from its course. 

Father Guido da Cortona was crossing Lake 
Thrasymene, commonly called Lago di Perugia, 
in a small boat alone, when it suddenly capsized, 
and he sank, his bark passing over him. In this 
great risk, the name of his Patroness, more deeply 
engraven in his heart than any other, came sud 
denly to his lips: he invoked Margaret, and she 
delivered him from those depths, restored him to 
his bark, and guided him in it safely to the shore 

Thirteen years after Margaret s death, there 
happened in the district of Cortona this stupen 
dous case. In the city of Casale a young man 
named Naldo was in the fields herd ing his master 
Nuzio s cattle; these suddenly took to headlong 
flight : despairing of ever taking them, full of 
fury and rage, he called the devil to his aid, and 
the devil came, and led him off to unknown spots. 
Meanwhile evening came, and the cattle came 
back to their usual stalls, but without the shep 
herd. As he did not make his appearance the 
next morning, Nuzio, in great anxiety, searched 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 24& 

all the neighboring forest, but neither found 
Naldo nor any one able to give any account of 
him. He continued his search next day, and 
then at last found him for dead near some bushes. 
He took hirn up in his arms to carry him homo 
and restore him, but on reaching a ditch full of 
water, the spirit wrested Naldo from his arm? 
and hurled him into the water to drown him , 
Nuzio, aided by his companions, soon got him 
out, but knew by such an incident that the 
wretched youth had been seized by a devil. Good 
Nuzio, by the strength of his faith, compelled 
the malignant spirit to tell when and how he 
would be dislodged from that body, and he said 
that he would not leave it till the youth was pre 
sented at Margaret s tomb. Nuzio, not relying 
much on this promise, insisted on having some 
less deceptive token : then the devil raised the 
left hand of the possessed one, as a sign that he 
bound himself to keep his promise ; but Nuzio 
was not satisfied, and the devil, unable to de 
ceive the lively faith of that simple countryman, 
said, that on leaving the young man he would 
spit out of his mouth a black coal, and he raised 1 
the right hand as a sign. Nuzio, now impatient 
to deliver the boy, carried him without any fur 
ther delay to the tomb, where he soon beheld 
fulfilled by Margaret the promise n . uctantly 



244 THE LIFE OF 

forced fro.n the devil. The rescued youth ever 
after had such a horror of his name that it never 
came to his lips. 

A child was born at Cerreto, a place nearCor- 
tona, with an eye so misformed, that instead of 
a pupil there was only a piece of flesh. A grown 
up sister implored Margaret s aid, and the eye 
soon appeared in its natural state, clearer even 
than the other, as the consoled parents found by 
repeated experiments. As soon as they could, 
they came to Gorton a to thank their Benefactress, 
and attest the fact under oath. 

In the Castello di S. Marco, belonging to Cor- 
tona, a large tumor formed in the throat of a 
child two years old. Its poor mother employed 
in vain all human remedies, and was in great fear 
of losing him, as she had already lostanother child 
by the same disorder, and at the same age. She 
recommended him to Margaret, and before she 
had ended her prayer, she beheld her fears dissi 
pated, the obstinate tumor having broken and 
happily discharged all its virulent matter. 

Don Matteo, a monk of Monte Cassino, of the 
princely family of Venosa, stopped to pass -the 
night at the inn of Camucia, less than a rnile 
distant from Gortona: but instead of rest found 
only mortal pain. An habitual infirmity, aggra 
vated by his journey, which obedience alone had 



SAINT MARGARK I OF COKTONA. 24:5 

imposed, returned so violently that night, that 
being now a man in years he expected every 
moment to die in spasms, especially as the place 
and the time afforded him no chance of physician 
or medicine. The vicinity to Cortona gave him 
faith in Saint Margaret, and commending him 
self to her with all his heart, he felt his paiu 
assuaged, the obstruction removed, and the dis 
order so vanish, that by morning he was able not 
only to leave his bed, but to go to the church 
of his Deliverer and celebrate Mass in thanks 
giving. 

A stout youth of the mountains of Cortona 
was seized with a violent disorder in the very 
bloom of life, and cut off in a few days. His 
mother was inconsolable in her grief, but remem 
bering Margaret s prodigious miracles, she con 
ceived so ardent a faith in her, that before her 
petition was concluded, she beheld her son rise 
from the dead. Rising from the bier he ran to 
embrace his mother, and, more than his* mother, 
to thank and bless the wonderful Margaret. To 
publish her renown and increase the number of 
her clients, he went around showing himself as 
a trophy of the great power of her intercession 
with God. 

In the same mountains an epidemic had so 
seized and distorted a poor woman, that she had 
21 * 



246 THE LIFE OP 

lain fjr seven years motionless on her oed, 
completely resigned to God s will, and ready to 
leave it only to be borne to the grave. Hearing 
of the wondrous miracles wrought by Margaret, 
it seemed to her that her cramped body was a 
better subject than any other on which to exer 
cise her great power; and cheered by sudden 
confidence, she made a vow that her first steps 
should be to visit her church and throw herself 
at her sepulchre. She had scarcely pronounced 
the vow, when she was called upon to fulfil it, 
Margaret having suddenly loosed her limbs and 
quickened them with vigor. Then she ran to 
Cortona, where she satisfied her devotion, and 
then by a solemn deposition left the great prodigy 
attested. 

But it would be endless merely to enumerate 
the countless number of Cortonese signally bene- 
fitted in every age by their Margaret. Suffice it 
to say, that as there was not a house there not 
full of devotion to her, so there was not a person 
whom she did not graciously relieve. In fact, 
not satisfied with rewarding the public devotion 
of her C ortoneae by private graces, she also fre- 
quentl/ be^tov^ed public and universal favors. 
Sucb or rtainl/ Tvad that in 1529, when there ap 
pear ^J. Txiforc Cortina, to demand its surrender, 
th* powerful wmy commanded by Philibert, 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 24:7 

Prince of Orange, as fatal to Rome, which it 
sacked, as to Florence, which it subdued. The 
Cortonese had only two companies of soldiers in 
their pay: nevertheless, encouraged by their 
fidelity, and trusting to the protection of their 
Saint, they refused to surrender and assumed the 
defensive. The furious prince at once surrounded 
it with twenty-five thousand soldiers, and raised 
a strong battery at St. Vincent s. But fruitless 
was every blow, vain every assault; Margaret 
passing visibly along the walls to encourage the 
defenders and repel the assail artts. At last the 
enemy, despairing of handling the booty which 
they had promised themselves from the sack, 
raised the siege, and more like a vanquished than 
a victorious army, abandoned Cortona, which, 
like favored Olympus, stood serene while fierce 
whirlwinds ravaged the fields and mounts less 
dear to heaven. From her happy heights she 
could look calmly down on the ruin, desolation, 
and ravages wreaked by the fury of that army 
on every other country not equally protected 
by Margaret ; to whom, in grateful return for the 
signal exemption which they had enjoyed, they 
had more reason than ever to exclaim in the words 
of Bcclesiasticus: " Thou hast delivered me, ac 
cording to the multitude of the mercy of thy 
Biame, from them that did roar, prepared to de- 



248 THE LI* E OF 

vour, and from the gates of afflictions that com- 
passed me about." Eccles. li. 4, 5. 



CHAPTER VI. 

HER MIRACLES IN OTHER PLACES. 

A PARTY of pilgrims had for many days jour 
neyed happily, towards the Holy Land; they 
embarked together at Ancona, but the winds 
became so contrary and the sea so tempestuous, 
that they had to yield to the tempest and take 
a direction far from their due course. So obsti 
nate was the pertinacity of the winds, and so far 
from every port the course they had taken, that 
the passengers consumed all their provisions and 
were about to die of hunger, obeying the sport, 
of the winds, or opposing them, be overwhelmed 
in those billows. To escape so fearful an alter 
native, the confused mariners made many avow, 
and all the alarmed passengers implored theii 
patron saints ; but the sea raged more furiously 
than ever, and the winds made fiercer war ; hope 
vanished, and only agonizing life was left flick 
ering Through Margaret s favor, hope sud 
denly revived, and each one gained new life. 



SAINT MAKGJKKT OF CORTONA. 249 

Among the passengers was one from Laviano, 
.Margaret s birthplace ; and recollecting that he 
had. with him some relics of his venerated coun 
trywoman, he took them out of his chest, ex 
posed them to the veneration of all, then held 
them up to the wind, which immediately from 
contrary became favorable, and bore the ship so 
quickly to the long sought harbor, that the as 
tounded sailors attested that for twenty-five years 
that they had followed the sea, they had never 
made so short a trip. 

A sanguinary malefactor was captured at 
Monte Pulciano, and having been convicted of 
his crimes, was sentenced to pay the next morn 
the deserved penalty at the hands of the minis 
ters of justice. He was kept guarded that night 
by additional keepers, and closely ironed ; seeing 
all human succor desperate, he tried heaven by 
means of Margaret. He implored her then, that 
is she had escaped eternal death in that city by 
the sudden rending of her sinful ties, so she 
should deliver him from temporal death by taking 
him out of prison and loosing his fetters. A 
prayer so bold, from a heart so wicked, undoubt 
edly did not deserve a hearing, yet Margaret 
kindly listened, and he found himself out of 
prison with the fetters on his feet. He immedi 
ately proceeded to Cortona, and melting with 



250 THE IJFK OP 

compunction and devotion, he j rostrated nirn 
self at the altar of his gracious Deliverer, and 
there left not only the chains of his body but 
also those of his soul, having contritely confessed 
his sins and begun a new life. 

She wrought a similar prodigy in Cittadi Gas- 
tello with thirty capital delinquents, incarcerated 
together in the same dungeon. They had re 
course to Margaret s protection, and beheld her 
open the door, loose their fetters, and set them 
free. A prodigy which, divulged by them 
through all the country, enkindled everywhere 
great love to Margaret, who was so affectionate 
even to sinners. 

Five years after Margaret s death, in the month 
of June, Signor Ridolfuccio of Arezzo was re 
duced to the last agony, when his wife made a 
vow to Margaret to visit her tornb and clothe 
one of the poor people attending there, if she 
cured her husband. Then lo ! he opened his 
eyes, and turning to his wife, said in a sonorous 
voice, "Be consoled, to-morrow I shall be well: 
two saints have appeared and so promised." The 
event verified it, so that he went with his wife to 
Cortona to fulfil the vow. 

A gentleman of Arezzo was treating with 
some desperadoes to mangle and slay a rival, but, 
in punishment for his perverse design, nearly 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 251 

bcoane hi nself a victim to death. While eating 
some fish eagerly, a bone stuck so firm in his 
throat that all remedy failed to remove it. lie 
then turned to Margaret, and to propitiate her, 
swore to give immediate peace to his enemy, and 
to go bare-footed to her grave, when suddenly 
Margaret, to the amazement of all the bystanders, 
made him spit out that short bone. 

Another man, called from his native place 
Aretino, while leaning o*: the edge of a well, it 
suddenly gave way and he fell into the water: 
he raised his mind to Margaret, and she rescued 
him from the double danger of the fall and of 
being drowned ; for when his friends had almost 
drawn him out with a rope, it broke, and he was 
again precipitated into the well to be again res 
cued by Margaret. 

In Monte di Santa Maria, a free feud of the 
noble house Borbone, a child five years old fell 
from a high window, and striking with his head 
on a stone, the brains issued from the fracture 
which was so large that three fingers could be 
inserted in it. The unfortunate child lay without 
a sign of life from midday to midnight : then a 
sudden internal impulse came to the mother to 
vow herself and her child to Margaret. She em 
braced the inspiration with great faith, and the 
child immediately spoke, and ran to the bosom 



252 THE LIFE OF 

of its astonished mother, with the wound en 
tirely dry and healed, so that she could at once 
bear him to Cortona to fulfill the vow, and attest 
the instantaneous and total cure. 

At Citerna, a harnlet near that mountain, 
a child was born. deaf and dumb, and so remained 
to the age of five years. Then a similar inspi 
ration induced both its parents to have recourse 
to Margaret ; they obeyed it, and the child s ears 
were instantly opened, and its tongue loosed. It 
called its father by name, and he with the mother 
bore it in their arms to Cortona to magnify their 
prodigious Benefactress and Comforter. 

A lady of Citta di Castello had, for several 
hours, lain in labor, and all the means of art had 
been in vain employed to deliver her, so that the 
physicians gave her up ; but she did not despair 
of Margaret, her special Protectress. Recurring 
to her with fervor, she at once gave birth to a 
fine, healthy child. 

Another lady of the same place had a beloved 
son grievously ill, and as she was fondly attached 
to him, could not bring herself to be deprived 
of him : and, rendered more devout by her great 
love, she prayed Margaret fervently, and was im 
mediately consoled, the sickness disappearing. 

In the same city a malignant fluxion of the 
eyes entirely blinded Signora Altavilla Finette. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 253 

After being thus blind several days, she im 
plored Margaret s assistance ; and at once recov 
ered her sight better than before. 

A woman there, too, named Superchia, had a 
son called Balduccio, in whom a rupture exhib 
ited symptoms more and more aggravated ; un 
able to try any more human remedies, the poor 
motner turned to Margaret s superhuman power, 
and obtained a cure so complete that no sign of 
the previous disease appeared. 

The pastor of San Sevino, in the diocese of 
the same city, deposed on oath, that a servant 
of Signora Benvenuta, residing in his parish, was 
in great risk of his life by a swelling and inflam 
mation of the throat, and that he recovered 
as soon as his mother vowed him to Margaret. 

At Crociano, in the diocese of Perugia, a sick 
man, in the delirium caused by fever, so badly 
wounded his eye as to put it out: the physicians 
used every effort to subdue the fever and restore 
the eye, but in vain. lie promised Margaret to 
visit her tomb and light ten tapers in her honor, 
and was immediately delivered from all his trou 
bles, so that he was able to get up, prepare food, 
take it with great relish, and start for Cortona. 

A brutal man named Giannino, near the last 
named place, furious against his child three years 
old, snatched it from his wife s arms and stran- 
22 



254 THE LIFE OF 

gled it, so that the blood gushed from his mouth, 
nose, and eyes. At this lamentable sight the in 
human father grew more savage, dashed it on 
the ground, and threw himself on his knees 
upon it, and seeing it finally crushed, took flight 
to escape the hands of justice. The afflicted 
mother, fearful of publishing by her tears the 
horrid crime of her husband, took up, with sup 
pressed sobs, the unconscious little body, and 
laid it in a place concealed from all but her grief. 
Three days after, impelled by the accounts of 
prodigies which all were relating of Margaret s 
miracles, she promised to visit her tornb bare 
footed and clothed in sackcloth, if her son was 
restored, and her husband saved ; and full of 
faith she went to see the hidden body of her 
murdered child ; and found him not only alive, 
but without a sign of that barbarous cruelty. 

The daughter in law of Guido della Cornia, a 
gentleman of Perugia, lost a child by the same 
disease which had taken off two other children 
of hers while yet at the breast. She made a 
fervent vow to Margaret to visit the altar, and 
her child suddenly carne to life. 

Signora Gualdrata Magalotti della Penna, pos 
sessed for many years by the spirits, suffered 
euch persecutions from them, that she was often 
found at the point of death ; she too vowed to 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 255 

Margaret to visit her altar clal in hair-cloth on 
this she was suddenly freed, and delivered for 
ever from the painful vexations of those demons. 

Simoncello Angel ucci of Perugia attested, with 
a solemn oath, that a painful tumor iormed under 
his chin, which no surgeon could cure; but that 
on his invoking Margaret and promising to visit 
her tomb every year, the pain and tumor instantly 
disappeared. 

A hoy, residing in the larger island in the 
Lago di Perugia, had a still worse swelling in hia 
mouth, so that he was compelled to keep hia 
tongue hanging out of his lips. His uncle Gia- 
copello, after trying every remedy, determined to 
show it to a skillful physician, then in Cortona. 
While on his way to him with his nephew, he 
reached a hill, from which descrying the church 
of St. Margaret, he prostrated himself and prom 
ised to visit her tomb if the boy was cured. 

After his prayer, he stopped at a wayside inn 
to refresh his nephew, and he was not only able 
to swallow food, but drew in his tongue and kept 
it in its natural position. The careless uncle 
did not as quickly correspond to this prompt 
grace; for on entering Cortona, instead of going 
to fulfill the promise to Margaret, he went to the 
physician s house and remained till evening. In 
the night the boy s disorder returned worse than 



256 THE LIFE OF 

ever, and while the uncle was busy preparing to 
get a new prescription of the doctor s, the lad 
implored his former Benefactress, and beheld her 
appear and cure him perfectly with her own 
hand, so that when day came he was able to go 
to the church and fulfill his vow. 

Margaret bestowed a similar favor a few years 
after her death on a noble youth, Signor di Bi- 
folio, who was very devout to her in life. His 
tongue became so swollen that the physicians 
feared he would suffocate, and had determined to 
perform a painful operation. Fearing this, the 
sick man commended himself to his revered 
Margaret to preserve him from the dreaded re 
medy. While thus praying, he fell asleep, and 
on awaking, found the swelling gone and all 
his strength restored. 

Clara, daughter of Nicholas and Jane Martini, 
from the valley of Zoca in the county of Peru 
gia, was so seized by devils at the age of three 
years and six months, that they prevented every 
motion of the body necessary either to make the 
sign of the Cross, or perform any other action of 
piety, and they even deprived her eyes of sight. 
Her parents finally resolved to take her to Mar 
garet s tomb, and at the mere threat the terrified 
demons suddenly abandoned the child, restoring 
sight to her eyes, and motion to her limbs. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 257 

Nevertheless her pious parents proceeded to 
Co r tona to thank their Benefactress, and to givo 
an authentic testimony of the cure effected. 

One Magio of Antria, in the diocese of Pe 
rugia, was horribly tormented by the stone : he 
vowed to visit her church, and to light before her 
altar as many candles as his poverty permitted; 
and immediately passed three stones, each capable 
of causing death by convulsions. 

A priest of Yiano, in the diocese of Chiusi, 
reduced to agony by the same malady, was in 
stantly cured of the malady by Margaret s in 
tercession. 

A woman named Letitia, of St. Agatha, in the 
diocese of Perugia, had been for four years para 
lyzed in most of her body. She at last resolved 
to appeal to Margaret, and vowing to visit her 
tornb, was suddenly straightened, and her limbs 
so relaxed that she was able, without any diffi 
culty, to fulfil her vow. 

Gruido, of Piano di Carpi, in the same diocese, 
on corning out of church was treacherously as 
sailed by an unknown hand, which, dealing him 
a fierce blow in the right eye, blinded him. For 
more than three months he tried the best reme 
dies of art, and invoked every powerful protector 
in heaven, but with no fruit, except that of con 
stant patience in his great misfortune. He, too, 



258 THE LIIE OF 

finally implored Margaret, promising to visit her 
tomb and present her with tapers, and his eye 
was immediately cured. 

A child was born in the territory of Pierlo, 
not only deprived of sight, but of any organi 
zation for sight, and remained so for about twenty 
days ; the afflicted mother bound herself to take 
him to Cortona, if Margaret supplied the defect 
of nature. The child began all at once to open 
its eyelids, and display clear and beautiful its 
miracle-given eyes. 

A child of Signora Nuta, wife of Accorso of 
Lucignano, running around the house found a 
sword, and going to his little brother s cradle, 
began to play with him, but struck him and so 
wounded the child, that it was swimming in 
its own blood. Some hours after, the mother, 
going there to nurse it, beheld the sad spectacle, 
and filled with horror, suddenly implored Mar 
garet, promising to carry it herself to her tomb, 
and there dedicate it to her on her altar, if she 
would deign to restore it. Her prayer was scarcely 
ended, when the wounds disappeared, and the 
child, turning its eye, saw the nurse, and smilingly 
took its usual food. 

Another child, falling from a window into the 
street, struck its head so severely on the stones, 
that both its eyes were forced cut, and it was left 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 259 

more dead than dying. At this sight the devout 
mother vowed her child to Margaret, and pro 
tested aloud her belief that she should receive 
her son sound from her, and she did in fact at 
once receive him perfectly healed ; for rising to 
its feet, it ran speedily to its mother s bosom, and 
she, to fulfil her promise and keep her vow, 
faithfully carried it to the tomb. 

A girl in the territory of Assisi, more mad 
than silly, tore off all clothes put on her, and 
committed other insane freaks, without any one 
being able to manage or correct her. The dis 
consolate parents, with great difficulty, took her 
to Margaret s tomb in Cortona, and there soon 
found that comfort for themselves, that sense for 
their daughter, which they had in vain sought 
in other sanctuaries. 

Another lady of Pozzuolo, called Bennesai, 
had, by a catarrh, lost the use of her right hand, 
horribly distorted, and the use of one leg, which 
remained paralyzed and useless. Both were sud 
denly cured on her making a vow to Margaret. 

A son of Signora Margaret Sassi of Bulgarelli, 
being a mere child, found in a closet some poison 
set there to destroy rats, and thinking it some 
exquisite delicacy, swallowed it stealthily with 
great gusto. Some hours after, signs of the poison 
appeared n a burning fever, and excruciating 



260 THE LIFE OF 

pains in the bowels, and in strange wanderings 
of the head. The physicians employed every 
antidote, but with so little fruit that they agreed 
in declaring that their little patient would soon 
die, or would survive an idiot. At so terrible a 
prospect, the mother was inflamed with confi 
dence in Margaret ; she implored her aid with 
great affection. She obtained it so speedily that 
the child suddenly found itself restored in mind 
and body. To correspond better to Margaret, 
bv a good use of the life which was her boon, 
he resolved to employ it entirely in the service 
of God, under the guidance of the patriarch 
Saint Dominic, among whose no less holy than 
learned sons, he begged to be enrolled and pre 
served till death. 

An incurable contagious disorder prevailed 
among children at Ragusa, in Dalmatia, when 
the vessel of the pilgrims, mentioned in the 
beginning of this chapter, touched there. One 
of them, a devout countryman of Margaret s, 
called Bartholomew Mantellato, while walking 
through the streets, met a very pious Ragusan 
gentleman, by name Michael, who, among his 
many exercises of piety, was accustomed to wel 
come to his home all pilgrims for the Holy Land. 
He conversed with Bartholomew, and obliged 
him, with his companions, to s .ay in his house 



SAINT MARGARET OF COHTONA 261 

While they were one morning breakfasting with 
him, good Bartholomew began to speak of the 
virtues and miracles of Margaret. At these 
stupendous narratives, and hearing from Bar 
tholomew that he had with him some relics of 
the Saint s hair, he took the reliquary and ran 
to the hospital where a little son of his, two 
years old, lay expiring of the epidemic. . On ap 
plying the holy relic, it was re- animated at once, 
and rose from the bed perfectly healed, to the 
great joy of Michael and of Bartholomew, who 
exulted to see his Saint glorified, even in that 
strange land, and extend her liberality to that 
kind host. 

A little girl, playing through the house, ran a 
spindle so deep into her foot that the point stuck 
out. Her uncle Galliero, an experienced sur 
geon, could not extract it. His wife, seeing the 
case desperate, implored the aid of Margaiet, of 
whom she was a special client, and while recom 
mending her niece to her, she suddenly thought 
of applying a plaster of litile or no avail for the 
purpose. Taking it, however, for an inspiration, 
she prepared it, and on applying it, saw to her 
double wonder, the stubborn point come out, not 
from the mouth of the wound, but from a sound 
part ; which opened to give passage to the piece 
of wood and then clo?e, regaining only a alight 



262 THE LIFE OF 

mark as an authentic monument of Maigaret s 
great prodigy. 

Father Francis di Colle, of the order of Mi 
nors, suffered greatly in 1614:, from a putrid tu 
mor in his foot brought on by erysipelas, and 
could not heal by it by all the appliances of art. 
An operation alone remained to be tried, but no 
surgeon durst attempt it, for fear of leaving him 
more maimed than before. While one day 
alone in bed in this state, he fervently com 
mended himself to Margaret, and felt an inter 
nal impulse to open the tumor himself : unbind 
ing his foot, he took a knife and was about to 
thrust it in, but stopped alarmed at the danger: 
at last an outward impulse from some unseen 
agent led his hand to cut, and did it so nicely 
that the tumor discharged all its malignant hu 
mor, and he was soon perfectly well. 

Gilbert Venuti of Cignano, in the diocese of 
Borgo San Sepolcro, suffered excruciating pain 
in a leg which was broken by a fall and never 
would join. He made a vow to visit Margaret s 
tomb and leave a gift: and that very instant his 
pain ceased, his leg joined, and he felt so vigor 
ous that without any trouble he walked to Cor- 
tona to venerate the blessed shrine. As I aspire 
to end my days with heart prostrated before it, 
so with it I end the present chapter which bj 



SAINT MARGARET OF COR TON A. 2H3 

its favors recounted will perpetually assure the 
readers that he who trusts in Margaret is never 
deluded: "Let them hope in Thee who have 
known thy name: for thou hast not forsaken 
them that seek thee." 



CHAPTER VII. 

MORE RECENT MIRACLES. 

As no age ever dawned more redounding to 
Margaret s glory than this (the 18th), so never 
was a time more fortunate for her clients, on 
whom she diffuses such a copious shower of graces, 
that we may say not an hour passes that they do 
not receive some signal favor either in the relief 
of the afflicted body or the comfort of the an 
guished soul, as appears in the innumerable spoils 
of deaths conquered, sickness dispelled, disasters 
averted, happiness obtained, and inthe ex votos true 
trophies of her boundless power daily hung up at 
her altar, sure defence against all miseries, prompt 
source of all content. Of the many thusexpelled by 
her gracious prodigies, I select here for repeti 
tion only those authentic cases, which were dis 
cussed by the Holy See, and approved prior to 
the definitive decree of her solemn canonization. 



264 THE LIFE OP 

In the early part of January, 1716, Mary 
Catharine Fabri, a child three years old, born in 
Cortoua, was suddenly surprised by a paralysis 
of the whole ri^ht side of her body, and two 
days after of the left also, to which the malady 
extended ; and so violently that becoming a per- 
feet paralytic, she entirely lost speech, sense, 
motion, and all power of standing on her feet. 
As her tender age did not allow the more vio 
lent remedies of art, the most suitable were ap 
plied by a skillful physician, Doctor Mario Ciar- 
pallini; but to so little purpose that the disease 
gained ground, and in spite of all the correc 
tives, the patient kept going from bad to worse 
The doctor, despairing of the case, gave her up 
telling the disconsolate parents that the child 
would soon die, or be a cripple all her life; and 
she remained in this helpless state for three 
months, when at the instance of some nuns, the 
mother, with great faith, invoked the intercession 
of Saint Margaret, promising by vow to robe 
her child in the Tertian color if she recovered : 
and the better to dispose herself to receive the 
grace, giving her child to a servant, she took it 
herself, with her two other children, to the high 
altar of the Saint. And having received com 
munion before it, she begged Father Pellegrino, 
an Observantine, to anoint her child with the 



SUNT MAKGARKT OF COKTOSA. 265 

oil of the lamp. The good religious did so at 
once, and laying the child on the altar, anointed 
it in the form ofth3 cross on her forehead, tem 
ples, and feet, praying himself in union with 
that devout mother. As he finished the unction, 
all the child s difficulties disappeared, it suddenly 
recovered all its lost senses ; and having been 
taken down from the altar walked readily, spoke 
freely, heard distinctly, and was able to return 
home on foot, impressing at every step miracu 
lous footprints, which increased the joy of the 
exulting company and filled the astonished spec 
tators with joy. 

In the following year, 1717, towards the close 
of the night of the 28th of December, more 
through a youthful freak than any real necessity 
at that unusual hour, the cleric Antonio Catelani 
and Benedict Bonfini, servant of Monsignore 
John Baptist Puccini, then bishop of that city, 
were walking on the wall of Cortona ; satisfied 
with the exploit, Catelani had to go oft for a 
moment leaving Boufini to wait for him. Lulled 
by fatigue, the latter stretched himself on the 
ground, and as the night was far advanced fell 
asleep. Catelani, unconscious of this, returned to 
the street by a cross-path, expecting to find his 
companion walking slowly ahead. Not finding 
him, he called him several times. The cry 
28 



266 THE LIFE OF 

awakened Bonfini, still sleepy and misled by the 
darkness, he missed the way, and advanced to the 
wall ; there the ground suddenly gave way and 
he fell with great violence on a heap of stones. 
By this terrible sound, Catelani knew that his 
companion had fallen. Horror-stricken, he sup 
posed him dashed to pieces by a fall from such 
a height ; the more so, as calling him again and 
again, he received no answers; disheartened too 
by such an accident, he burst into tears, not 
knowing what else to do ; at last he began to 
call him again ; and then Bonfini. who, safe 
and sound, had been looking for his hat, and 
gone some distance, replied and assured him that 
that he was entirely unhurt, thanks to Saint 
Margaret whom he had invoked from his heart 
in that catastrophe. Catelani wished to Imve 
the nearest gate of the city opened at once, but 
he, ashamed of his nocturnal ramble, the cause 
of his accident, being known, preferred to roam 
around the wall, and get in through a breach, 
which he succeeded in doing with the aid of 
Catelani who accompanied him home. In the 
street, but still more in his bed, Bonfini, think 
ing over his recent danger, was seized with such 
a tremor, that he was ready to faint with terror; 
and the better to assure himself of his entire 
preservation from all harm, which he believed 



SAIN I MARGARET OF CORFONA. 267 

he had obtained from the miraculous Margaret, 
he sent for a surgeon early in the morning to 
examine carefully whether he had received any 
outward or inward injury ; but the careful scru 
tiny discovered neither; and yet the fall was so 
violent that the stout cloth pantaloons and his 
stockings were all torn. The prudent physician 
nevertheless bled him and kept him quiet for 
two days, after which, feeling his blood cairn, 
and his fear abated, he went to thank his gra 
cious Protectress, and hung up at her altar with 
a silver ex voto all his torn clothes. 

On the 14th of February, in*the Jubilee year, 
1725, Sister Mary Fortunate Vannucci, a lay sis 
ter in the convent of St. Jerome at Cortona, 
commonly called the Poverelle, felt unusually 
ill. By no means delicate and very laborious, 
she went on with her work thinking little of 
herself and the disease. But the disease was 
not so trifling as she flattered heiself, nor so 
mild as she treated it. It began to grow worse, 
and to rack her with burning fever, pain in the 
chest, and a convulsive cough that kept render 
ing her breathing more and more difficult, and 
distressing her chest ; so that on the 12th of 
March she had to give up, and have the doctor 
called in. The physician, in order to allay the 
fever, and dispel the painful symptoms, bled her 



268 THE LIFE OF 

several times, and used all the remedies which 
his skill suggested ; but seeing that the disease 
gained ground, and that the sister was sinking 
under his very restoratives, he asked to have a 
consultation with another physician of the city, 
Doctor Mario Antonio Ciarpallini. On confer 
ring together, they gave her up as hopeless ; there 
having evidently formed in the lungs a corro 
ding and inflammatory tubercle. To ease her 
pain and defer death, they adopted every ready 
expedient. The pain, however, increased not 
only in the chest, but in the head which ached 
frantically, giving her no rest, night or day, and 
a cramp in the arm which prevented her using 
it. She was so near death that it seemed as though 
breath ing alone had to cease, her extremities being 
cold and her throat refusing to swallow. The phy 
sicians found her in this state on the 4th of April, 
and advised the last sacraments to be adminis 
tered. She received Holy Viaticum towards 
evening from the Father Confessor, who deferred 
Extreme Unction to the next turn of fever which 
was expected to be fatal. He accordingly re 
turned to the college at a late hour, convinced 
that the fever would not set in before the next 
day ; but it came on at dawn and began with a 
swoon, followed by a slight delirium ; then her 
eyes lost their si^ht and her limbs all motion, 



SAINT MARGARET OF COKTONA. 269 

so that she remained stiff and immovable. While 
they were waiting for her every moment to ex 
pire, there arrived at the convent an authentic 
portion of Margaret s dress sent by Signora 
Tomrnasa Tommasi, that they might sign the 
sister with that relic ; it was immediately car 
ried to the dying nun s cell and laid in her breast, 
while all recited an Our Father, a Hail Mary, 
and a Glory be to the Father, for her recovery. 
Almost at the same time she was recommended 
and signed with Margaret s own crucifix, sent to 
the monastery for that purpose by Signor Bali 
Passerini. After receiving this benediction, the 
patient remained for about a quarter of an hour 
in a sweet sleep, or rather rapt in a joyful vision; 
she seemed to be at the grating in the parlor, 
giving a loaf in alms to a Tertiary of St. Fran 
cis, who, seeing her so pallid and emaciated, 
asked her what her ailing was; she replied that 
she had a great pain in the breast. On this the 
Tertiary, extending her hand, said : "Oh! take 
heart, there is surely nothing the matter, and be 
well," at these words the dying woman came to 
herself and found herself indeed as well, with 
as fresh strength and color, as if she had not 
suffered any disease. She was able to arise at 
once from bed, dress without assistance, and go 
down two pair of stairs and run quickly to the 
23* 



270 THE LIFE OF 

oratory of her miraculous Healer; there on her 
knees to sing with the other nuns the accus 
tomed hymn of thanksgiving to the Almighty. 
While thus engaged, she was beheld and heard 
by the astonished Confessor, who had hastened 
to assist her in her last agony ; and having heard 
the account of the prodigy, he rendered new 
thanks to God, and sent the resuscitated sister 
to the parlor to console her grieving mother, 
who was there with sobs and tears awaiting the 
announcement of her departure: when instead 
of this she beheld with her own eyes her daugh 
ter restored to life, the position of the two had 
well nigh changed, for she almost died of pure 

joy. 

These three prodigies, together with the mirac 
ulous incorruption of her most beautiful body, 
were approved by the Sovereign Pontiff before 
Margaret s canonization. I take pleasure in adding 
two others still more recent, of which I have just 
received the joyful intelligence. On the 23d 
of July, 1738, the Canon Brunone Bruni, after 
assisting at vespers in his collegiate church of 
Saint John in Perticeto, feeling suddenly very 
strange, was already on his way to an apothe 
cary s where he hoped to find a physician, but a 
violet) t stroke of apoplexy arrested and pros 
trated him in the middle of the square, deprived 



SAINT MAKGAKET OF CORTONA. 271 

of breath, sense, and motion. Persons who were 
passing immediately ran up, and to have him 
attended at once, carried him to the very apoth 
ecary. Here all the usual liniments and spirits 
were applied, but he did not recover or improve 
a jot. Meanwhile the Archpriest Rubini ar 
rived, and being aware of his great devotion to 
Saint Margaret, took a picture of the Saint, 
blessed him, and applied it to his head ; he 
at once recovered his senses, his tongue was 
loosed, his limbs relaxed, he rose and found him 
self entirely intact except in one of his toes 
which had been injured in the fall. To cure this 
the surgeons compelled him to go to bed ; but 
when quiet and embrocations failed to heal it, 
they resorted to the lancet. Tired of this long 
treatment, and full of confidence in his Saint, he 
one day took off all the liniments, and blessed 
the part with a piece of Margaret s dress, iu 
which without other bandage he tied it up. The 
next morning feeling no pain, he examined it 
carefully, and found it not only well, but without 
the slightest sign of all the incisions made with 

o o 

the lancet. In gratitude to so lavish a Benefac 
tress, he not only paid his private homage, but 
established a numerous public Sodality of Eccle 
siastics and lay persons, devout clients of Mar 
garet, and fervent imitators of her charity to the 



272 



THE LIFK OF 



sick poor ; caring for them at their own expense, 
and comforting them in their agony by their as 
sistance. 

Last year (1745), a venerable missionary priest 
of the Propaganda, who had returned from Peru, 
in America, to Rome, attested by repeated depo 
sitions, that one clear day, while his devout 
companion was giving in one of those churches 
the novena preceding the Feast of Saint Margaret, 
in the month of February, she appeared at the 
church door in her usual Tertiary habit, and be 
fore every eye, passed through the crowd of 
people, addressed the priest, thanked him for his 
zeal for her glory, and promised to correspond 
to it. The novelty of the habit, the loveliness 
of her countenance, the sweetness of her voice, 
filled the people with admiration and love, and 
so enkindled such devotion to Margaret, that 
they venerated no saint so much, nor invoked 
any to more purpose. Thus Margaret, not less 
to Indian than to European, by the wonderful 
graces which she obtains for all, exclaims con 
stantly with her Jesus : " Come to me all ye that 
labor and are heavy burthened, and I will re 
fresh you. 



8AINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 273 



C HAPTER VIII. 

CHRONOLOGICAL SUMMARY OF THE DEVOTION 
PAID TO MARGARET. 

THE universal public veneration of Margaret 
be^an at Cortona as soon as she closed her mortal 

O 

career, when, according to the promise made her 
by her Jesus, when she breathed forth her soul, 
she also blew from the hearts of her scoffers all 
envy and contempt, changed now by God in his 
mercy to credit and love. Her very detractors 
commended her virtues, exalted her merits, 
sought her relics, revered her remains, and joined 
with the rest in surrounding her funeral with 
the pomp which we have elsewhere described, 
the noble cortege, the countless torches, and 
strove to immortalize her body by fragrant bal 
sams : to perpetuate her name by the sumptuous 
erection of that new and august temple, com 
menced in the very year of Margaret s death, as 
is proven by the ancient stpne tablet set now in 
the outer wall of the exterior portico of that 
church, and cut as follows : 

" A. D. MCCLXXXXVII. 

TEMPORE D. FRANCISCI PRIORI8 

CONSULUM COMMUXIS GORTON^ 

1NCKPTA FU1T EOCM SI \ " 



274 THE LIFE OP 

Nine years after, that is in .800, Hildebrand, 
Bishop of Arezzo, wishing to restore and em 
bellish the oratory of Saint Basil, granted an in 
dulgence of forty days to all who contributed 
their alms, and used in his edict these words: 
" Where reposes the body of Blessed Margaret, 
through whose merits many miracles have been 
wrought there." Peter, Bishop of Chiusi, pub 
lished a like edict to his diocesans, giving Mar 
garet the title not of Blessed merely, but of Saint, 
in these terms: "Almighty God, by the merits 
of this Saint, enlightens the blind, restores hear 
ing to the deaf, and moreover raised to life a 
dead child about to be interred." 

More authoritative honors were paid to Mar 
garet about the same time by Cardinal Napoleon 
Orsini, Legate of the Holy See. He approved 
her life, written by Father Giunta Bevignati, 
authenticated the miracles, confirmed her title 
of Blessed, and increased her devotion by many 
indulgences ; and finally in 1318, persuaded 
Isnard, Patriarch of Antioch, and eleven other 
bishops, to grant each forty days indulgence to 
all who visited her tomb or gave alms towards 
it. 

Ten years after, in 1328, when Cortona was 
restored, to her pristine honor as an episcopal 
see, Ranieri Ubertini, the new bishop, ratified 



8A1NT MARGARET OF COHTONA. 275 

Margaret s title of Blessed, as well as all the in 
dulgences. As by this means the pilgrims and 
donations to the venerated sepulchre were mul 
tiplied, so that the magnificent structure of the 
new church was at last completed. Although 
dedicated to Saint Basil and Saint Margaret, it 
has always borne simply the name of our Saint. 
This temple of Almighty God was opened in 
1392, under Pope Boniface VIII, who granted 
many indulgences, which Pope Eugene IV con 
firmed and increased, when by his bull he ap 
proved the cession of the church and oratory 
made by the Cortonese to the Observantine 
Friars Minor. In this bull the Sovereign Pon 
tiff gives this high attestation of Margaret s mira 
cles, and the devotion to her: " As the miracles 
increased, which Almighty God, by the merits 
of the same Blessed Margaret, has long since 
deigned to work, and continues to work, this 
oratory has become renowned for the continual 
pilgrimages and the devotion of the faithful." 

But it became still more celebrated in subse 
quent years, when the church was better served 
and attended by those holy religious. By their 
fervent appeals, their efficacious supplications, 
they better disposed the crowds of pilgrims to 
receive graces from Margaret, and obliged Mar 
garet to grant them, so that, the prodigies in- 



276 THE LIKH OK 

creasing, veneration also increases. The illus 
trious client of Margaret, the Sovereign Pontiff 
Leo X, attests in his bull, that the Feast of Saint 
Margaret was celebrated in that church by an 
ever increasing concourse of the faithful on the 
anniversary of her blessed death. To promote 
it still more, he granted for that Feast an indul 
gence of two hundred years, and as many quar 
antines, and in the following year, 1516, granted 
a plenary indulgence ; and by a special indult 
permitted in that church the celebration of the 
mass and recitation of the office of a saint, neither 
virgin nor martyr. These concessions were 
made no less from his own loving reverence to 
Margaret, than from his condescension to the 
pious Cortonese nobleman, Silvio Passerini, then 
Archpriest of the Cathedral of Cortona, and 
Dutary of his Holiness, but subsequent Cardinal. 
The Cortonese never spared any endeavor to 
give greater solemnity to each returning anni 
versary. Not only is Margaret styled, in the 
ancient public statutes of that noble city, their 
beloved Protectress, but many orders are to be 
found issued for the celebration of her annual 
Feast, and among others, that the tribunals 
should be closed every year for three days, that 
is the eve and the morrow of the 22d of Febru 
ary. Moreover, that for the better preservation 



SAINT MAKGAKET OF CORT<v.* {77 

and honor of liei 1 mcorrup: oody -i snould be 
shown only on her Feast, -or some other urgent 
public necessity, or private devotion of illus 
trious and noble personages. This decree is 
sf.il) in full observance, with the sole advanta 
geous exception, that the sacred body is shown 
also on Sunday after Ascension, when they an 
nually celebrate with great pomp her solemn 
translation. The keys of the shrine are kept by 
the Supreme Council, and one of the public 
magistrates is always present at its opening. 

The indult, conceding a proper mass and office 
on the anniversary of Margaret, was in 1623 ex 
tended to the whole Franciscan Order, by the 
Pontiff Urban VIII, himself a special client of 
Margaret. Four years after, the Cortonese, ever 
anxious for the honor of their Saint, addressed 
a fervent appeal to the same Pope, soliciting the 
institution of a process, according to the new 
form prescribed by him for solemn canonizations, 
and the Pontiff assigned Cardinal Mellini as 
postulator of the cause. On his death, Cardinal 
Saccnetti was substituted on the 2d of March, 
1641. As he died four years after, Cardinal 
Costaguti was appointed on the 4th of July, and 
he was succeeded by Cardinal d Este and Car 
dinal Aldobrandini. In 1706, Clement XI as 
signed the prosecution of the cause to the pious 
24 



278 THE LIFE OK 

Cardinal Gabi .elli, who, at the instance of the 
Conventual Franciscans, obtained for them on 
the 9th of May, 1711, from the Sacred Congre 
gation of Rites, the proper prayer and lessons 
of the office of Blessed Margaret. This indult 
was extended on the 2d of July, 1712, to all the 
friars and nuns of the Observance. Cardinal 
Gabrielli, having died in the meanwhile, was suc 
ceeded the last mentioned year by Cardinal 
Casini, of the Order of Capuchins, then recently 
promoted to the purple in consequence of his 
great merit. Three years after, that is on the 
llth of May, 1715, he finally obtained of the 
Sacred Congregation, that on the anniversary of 
Margaret s death, this eulogium of her should 
be inserted in the Roman Marty rology : "At 
Cortona, in Tuscany, Blessed Margaret of the 
third Order of Saint Francis, whose body wonder 
fully incorrupt for four centuries and more, dif 
fusing a sweet odor, and illustrious for frequent 
miracles, is there revered with great honor." 
For this he deserves indeed an eternal encomium 
from me in these pages, if my pen could express 
what his merits deserve; as they are expressed 
in the three volumes of his admired apostolic 
sermons, which place in a noble view no less the 
virtues preached than the eminent preacher. 
Every encomium would indeed be less glorious 
than his simple title ol Cardinal Casini. 



SAINT MARGARKT OF CORTONA. 279 

This pious and illustrious Cardinal was suc 
ceeded on the 28th of January, 1720, by one no 
less so, his Eminence, Pietro Marcellino Corra- 
dini, who, most grateful for special benefits re 
ceived from Margaret, erected many altars, 
founded more chapels, and instituted feasts in 
her honor, and also visited her tomb, authenti 
cated the relics, examined the miracles, and sc 
promoted the solemn Canonization, that he at 
last obtained it from the Supreme Pontiff , Bene 
dict XIII, who had been chosen by God to exalt 
Margaret on the altars, and to be exalted by her, 
first on earth, to the honors of the purple, to 
which he was named on the Feast of Saint Mar 
garet, February 22, 1672, and to the Pontifical 
throne, to which he was raised on the Feast of her 
translation, May 29th, 1724, and secondly to 
heaven, to which he soared, closing his life at the 
close of first vespers of her solemn festival, Feb 
ruary 21, 1730. This holy Pontiff then, on the 
23d of December, 1727, after hearing the Con- 
suitors of the Rites and the eminent Cardinals,, 
and on the 27th (Feast of Saint John the Evan 
gelist, Margaret s beloved protector), approved 
several miracles ; finally, on the 22<1 of February, 
1728, pronounced the great <!<>< <-r Canon 

ization. 

The news of this long desired decree reached 



280 . THE LIFE OF 

Cortona by express, late at night, and Signer 
Onof rio Buoni, public deputy for that cause, 
which he had promoted with no less zeal than 
expense, wished to anticipate the joy of his fel 
low-citizens by making it known by the festive 
sounds of all the bells. All at once understood 
the meaning, and every heart exulting, poured 
forth most fervent thanks to God. Not content 
with this private thanksgiving, they renewed it 
solemnly in the morning with a mass and the Te 
Deum, chanted in the church of their beloved 
Saint, for whose greater honor the whole city was 
illuminated for three successive nights. To fill up 
their cup of joy, there was needed now only the 
fulfilment of the honors then decreed to the 
Saint; hence, impatient of delay, they besought 
his Holiness to issue with all possible celerity 
the public act of solemn Canonization, and he, 
to solemnize it better, resolved to perform on the 
first great solemnity, Whitsunday, which fell 
that year on the 16th of May, on which day it 
was in the most solemn manner executed with 
the usual pomp, in the Basilica of Saint Peter s, 
as described in the two previous editions of this 
book. 

This was followed by the solemnization of a 
Triduum in the Church of the Holy Apostles 
of the Conventual Friars, and of an Octave b} 



MAKGAKKT OK COKTONA. 28) 

the Observautine Fathers in Ara Caeli, the front 
of the church being covered by a most leautiful 
facade of canvass put up on a network of beams 
for the occasion. In Cortona, the honors paid 
her by the people exceeded ail ideas, for they 
equalled their unrivalled devotion to the Saint. 
All persons of rank and distinction in the neigh 
boring cities, and in all Tuscany, flocked to Cor 
tona, where artists of the highest merit, inusi 
cians instrumental and vocal, hastened, and the 
most renowned oratory came in answer to the 
invitations of the Cortonese. 

Even these holidays did not check the desire 
of the people to honor their beloved Saint; 
they could not indeed obtain of the Holy See 
any higher title, but they could more ample hon 
ors; and these they solicited in every way, using 
with Clement XII, the mediation of many bish 
ops and princes, that his Holiness might extend 
to all Italy the proper office and mass granted to 
the whole Seraphic Order for her Feast, the 22d 
of February. This the Sovereign Pontiff granted 
by his rescript of May llth, 1786. Having en 
larged the office, they determined to extend also 
the church, by adding two magnificent chapels, 
increasing its splendor by greater perpetual 
lamps around the tomb, and adding new orna 
ments to the beautiful shrine God concurred 
24* 



282 THE LIFK OF 

in this by the fo. lowing multiplications. In the 
month of August, 17-14, the Canon, Philip An 
gel iere Alticozio, Purveyor General of the So 
dality of St. Margaret, gave Joseph Giovacchi, 
coppersmith in Cortona, twenty -seven pounds of 
brass to be worked into sheets, and fitted in the 
form of wings to one of the bronze animals 
which support the shrine. When he had fin 
ished his work it was found to weigh more than 
before, in spite of the .working and the loss by 
fire. By a similar result did God reward the 
zeal of Father Joseph Anthony Gardi, Warden 
of the Conventual Friars at Imola. That Fa 
ther had wished to celebrate Margaret s Feast in 
his church with greater pornp, but the wax can 
dles hired at various shops, though burned 
for more than three hours, never lost ;m ounce, 
but went back to the owners heavier than they 
came. 

Quicker than the sumptuous labor of the shrine, 
the splendid design of which required a long time 
to complete, could they give that venerated body 
the garb which had pleased her more than aught 
else here on earth, and which on her death the 
magnificent devotion of the past generations of 
Cortonese had removed. Hence in 1744, they 
resolved to attire her in anew habit, exactly like 
that used by her ir life: accordingly by closely 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA 283 

observing the ancient pictures of the Saint, and 
considering the identical relics of her habit, they 
made one of the same kind and form, that is a 
gray cloak, and a dress of a dusky white ground 
with gray stripes. But of all these honors paid 
to their beloved Saint, the most glorious to her, 
the most advantageous to the world, has been the 
increase of the ancient Sodality, already erected 
iii Cortona, under Margaret s auspices, and of 
which I here subjoin a separate notice. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE SODALITY OF SAINT MARGARET AT CORTONA. 

As early as 1660, some pious gentlemen of 
Cortona, aspiring to imitate the contrition and 
penance of their contrite Penitent, and to obtain 
it of God, united to obtain her own powerful 
mediation : placing their association under her 
protection, and calling it, after her, the Sodality 
of penance and contrition of Saint Margaret ; 
and having obtained the Apostolic approbation 
of the Sovereign Pontiff, Alexander VII., these 
devout gentlemen frequently met to offer their 
prayers for their holy intention to their great Pa 
troness and titular Saint ; and she so heard them, 
that Cortona had more than once the oleasure 



284 THE LIFE OF 

of seeing those who had been a scandal, become 
by penance the ornament of the city. The zea 
lous gentlemen, desirous of not enjoying se 
striking an advantage alone, wished to extend 
their fortunate Sodality to the world, and having 
applied to the vigilant Pontiff Benedict XIV, in 
1741, they not only obtained his approbation, 
but a greater aid of spiritual treasures which 
attracted even the most indifferent. He con 
firmed and extended the following indulgences 
to all the sodalists of both sexes, viz: a plenary 
indulgence on the day of their entering the So 
dality, after confession and communion, and on 
the same conditions a like plenary indulgence in 
articulo mortis, on their invoking (at least con 
tritely in heart, if unable to speak) the sacred 
names of Jesus and Mary. A plenary indul 
gence on the Feast of Saint Margaret, Easter, and 
Whitsunday. On the nativity of Saint John 
the Baptist, and the Feast of Saint Matthew, 
seven years and as many quarantines on receiv 
ing the holy sacraments, and visiting on the day 
the church of St. Margaret in Cortona, or out of 
Gorton a any church of the order of Saint Francis, 
if any, and if none any church at option. More 
over, every time they do any work of Christian 
charity, sixty days indulgence, all which indul 
gences the sodalists may apply to the souls in 
Purgatory. 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTOXA. 285 

The zealous gentlemen have enriched their 
Sodality with other estimable spiritual treasures, 
that is, filiation with the most estimable orders 
in the Catholic world, having obtained from the 
Generals of these religious orders that whoever 
becomes a Brother or Sister of the Sodality of 
Saint Margaret, becomes also a Brotner or Sister 
of that order, and enjoys all the advantages 
usually gained by such filiations and brother 
hoods. These advantages are reduced by theo 
logians to four heads, as may be seen in Suarez* 
and Gobat.f These are, first, the receiving spe 
cial benefits from God, through the merits of 
that order to which God, being attached, cannot 
but love specially all connected with it ; it being 
the part of true friendship to render all the 
friends of the beloved amiable to the lover 
Thus for chaste Joseph s sake the house of Poti- 
phar was blessed and Pharao s kingdom pros 
pered. The second is to derive special assis 
tance from the public and private prayers of 
those religious, theologians teaching, unani 
mously, that the prayers of others aid us more 
effectually as they are more attached to, or con 
nected with the suppliant. The third is to par 
ticipate plentifully in the satisfaction of the acts 
of mortification of these religious, so that Divine 

*Tom. 4. in 3. purl. disp. 55. sect. 5. 
tTracl- 4. de Indulg. part 1. CUD. 12. 



286 THE UFK OK 

Justice, satisfied thereby, pardons us the scourges 
deserved by our sins ; hence the more penitent 
an order is, and the less delinquent its members, 
the more redundant satisfaction is communicated 
to the confraters. The fourth is the obtaining 
the ample indulgences granted by the Sovereign 
Pontiffs to all who are admitted by the superiors 
of those orders to share in their good works. 
Urban Y gave permission to the Generals and 
Provincials of the Seraphic Order to communi 
cate to all their friends all the indulgences of 
their order; and many theologians maintain that 
this faculty was not taken away by the bull of 
Pope Paul V. But even if it was, it is certain 
that every religious order has had many plenary 
and daily indulgences bestowed upon it, which 
are gained by its religious, and are enjoyed by suf 
frage by souls most united to them. 

Hence the Brothers and Sisters participate in 
life and after death, by virtue of filiation and 
aggregation made to the Sodality, in all the good 
works : that is, offices, masses, communions, fasts, 
watches, sermons, missions, spiritual exercises, 
penitences, abstinences, disciplines, alms, hospi 
tality, mental and vocal prayer, labors and the 
rest, made and practised by God s grace in the 
following orders: Benedictines of Monte Cas- 
sino, Basilians, Augustinians, including the 
Barefooted, and those of the Congregation of 



SAINT MARGARET OF CORTONA. 287 

Lombardy, Camaldolese, Hermits of the Congre 
gation of Tuscany, those of the city, the Monks 
of Vallumbrosa, Reformed Cistercians, Monks 
of La Trappe, Trinitarians, Observantines, Re 
formed Franciscans, Recollects-of France, Alcan- 
tarines, and all other Reformed Minors, living 
under the obedience of the Minister General of 
the Order of Saint Francis, Conventuals, Dorni 
nicans, Servites of Mary, Silvestrines, Celes- 
tines, Olivetans, Hieronyrnites of Blessed Peter 
of Pisa, Theatines, Barnabites, Capuchins, Car 
melites of the Congregation of Mantua, There- 
sians, both of Italy and Spain, two distinct 
orders, Buonfratelli of St. John of God, Clerks 
Minor of the pious Schools, Canons Regular of 
Lateran,Lazarists, Minims, Fathers of the Society 
of Jesus,Carthusia,ns, Ministers of theSick, and of 
the whole Order of the Visitation, who, with the 
Fathers of the Society of Jesus, have been in perpe 
tuity aggregated to the Sodality of St. Margaret. 
Of these orders, the Augustinians, Trappists, 
and Celestines celebrate annually a special mass, 
and make special suffrages for the official breth 
ren of the Sodality on their death. To these 
suffrages gratuitously made by these religious, are 
added those obligatory every yeai on each soda- 
list, the rules requiring each one to have a mass 
celebrated every year for the deceased members, 
and to this mass, at whatever altar offered, Bene- 



288 LIFK OF SAINT MARGARET. 

diet XIA 7 granted the induii of a privileged 
altar, and the deliverance >[ a, sou: from Purga- 
wrv If *mv one through his poverty cannot 
have this mass said, he must, in lieu there 
of, confess, receive, and recite the whole ro 
sary of fifteen decades, to which communion and 
rosary the same Sovereign Pontiff granted a 
special plenary indulgence, so that every deceased 
member obtains every year the suffrages of as 
many masses and plenary indulgences, as there 
are living members; and at the present time the 
number enrolled throughout the world is very 
great, including also rnonarchs and sovereigns. 
Hence it seemed proper to the same Supreme 
Pontiff, Benedict XIV, to exalt it still more by 
this decree : " The Sacred Congregation of In 
dulgences and Sacred Rites on the 5th of Feb 
ruary, 1748, ordained that the Sodality of Saint 
Margaret of Gorton a should be erected into an 
archconfraternity, with power to aggregate other 
confraternities erected under the same title, and 
of communicating to them the indulgences 
granted to it by the briefs alleged ; a report 
whereof having been made by me, the under 
signed, to our most Holy Father on the 2nd of 
March, his Holiness approving the act of the 
Sacred Congregation, granted the said erection, 
to be promulgated however in a special brief. 

THE END.